A South American plant is currently invading waterways in Southeastern United States and one Bay County resident found it in his own backyard.
Although this is the one and only case of it here, the proximity of this plant raises serious concerns.
This plant from Brazil has caused severe economic and environmental problems in other parts of the country. FWC Lead Biologist Matt Phillips says, "When you look west of here, states like Louisiana and Texas spend millions of dollars trying to control this in their public water bodies and we definitely don't want to have to spend that kind of money here in Florida."
Phillips says these plants shade out native vegetation and threaten our water quality. When they're this close to an important body of water, it could be dangerous.
"Deer Point Lake is just a stones throw literally from this location so we really want to prevent any kind of transfer of this plant into a public drinking water source for Bay County," says Phillips.
Luckily, Fred Andrews noticed the salvinia plant quickly spreading across the pond in his backyard.
"We first noticed the plant in the lake probably about 14 weeks when we saw sketches of it around the edge of the lake and its been growing like wildfire," says Andrews.
"It's a very unique plant...really the key is the robust growth. You see how large it is for a small floating plant, and those hairs are key," says Phillips.
Officials say while they know how to treat it, how it got here is still a mystery.
"They've had trouble with beavers and maybe they carried them from one pond to another but how it got to this place in Florida in the United States is still a mystery," says Phillips.
Phillips says if you have seen this plant in Florida, immediately call 850-617-9430.