Cattails have flat to slightly rounded leaves that twist slightly over their length and can grow to 5 or 10 feet in height. Flowers form a dense dark brown, cigar-shape at the end of spikes (called the catkin). Cattails can be partially submerged or in boggy areas with no permanently standing water. Cattails spread rapidly because their seeds blow in the wind and float on the water's surface and vegetatively they spread from underground rhizomes.
Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. These invertebrates in turn are used as food by fish and other wildlife species (e.g. ducks). After aquatic plants die, their decomposition by bacteria and fungi provides food (called "detritus") for many aquatic invertebrates. The rhizomes and lower leaf portions of cattails are consumed by nutria, muskrats, and geese.
Herbicide Management Options:
Reward: is a liquid diquat formulation that has been effective on cattails. It is a contact herbicide. Contact herbicides act quickly and kill all [plant cells that they contact. A non-ionic aquatically registered surfactant (see the label) will have to be added to the Reward solution for good results.
Rodeo: is a liquid glyphosate formulation and has been effective on cattails. This is a broad spectrum, systemic herbicide. Systemic herbicides are absorbed and move within the plant to the site of action. Systemic herbicides tend to act more slowly than contact herbicides. An aquatically registered surfactant (see the label) will have to be added to the glyphosate solution for good results.
Habitat: contains the active ingredient, imazapyr, which inhibits the plant enzyme AHAS (acetohydroxyaced synthase). Habitat is a systemic herbicide that is effective on post-emergent floating and emergent aquatic vegetation. Imazapyr is effective at low-volume rates and does not contain heavy metals, organ chlorides or phosphates, making it safe to humans and livestock. Habitat requires the use of a non-ionic surfactant when applying on post-emergent vegetation.
Biological Management Options: There are no available methods for biological control of cattails at this time.