Herbicides and Surfactants

Please Note:

The following information is provided regarding the herbicide and surfactant products discussed at the workshops. These products are labeled "CAUTION". Do not handle these products unless you understand and follow all appropriate precautions and Federal and State rules and regulations. Follow strickly the instructions on the labels. We do not consider reading this page to be a substitute for attending a workshop where you can see and hear all of the details of this subject. In addition, being able to clarify any questions you have about the materials provided can be very important in making sure the work is done properly, in conformance with all regulations and that the results are rewarding.


Phragmites destroys valuable landscaping. photo by Bob Williams


General Definitions

The following are general descriptions and not intended to represent the definitions provided in Michigan or Federal laws.

"Pesticide" - A chemical preparation for destroying plant, fungal, or animal pests.
"Herbicide" - A substance or preparation for killing plants, especially weeds.
Note: An herbicide is a pesticide.

"Adjuvant" - An ingredient (as in a prescription or solution) that facilitates or modifies the action of the principal ingredient.
"Surfactant" - A chemical agent capable of reducing the surface tension of a liquid in which it is dissolved [syn: wetting agent.
Note: There are a variety of adjuvants used with herbicides. A surfactant is one type of adjuvant.

The Chemicals We Use

We use the herbicide Aqua Star or AquaPro with the surfactant Cygnet Plus. Both are available from Joe Bondra at Cygnet Enterprises, 1860 Bagwell, Flint, MI 48053, 1-800-359-7531. AquaStar or AquaPro costs about $40 per gallon and is available in 2.5 gallon containers. Cygnet Plus cost about $22 a gallon and is available in one gallon containers. Other approved herbicides such as Shore-Klear are available in quart sizes but cost about $45 per quart. Depending on current availability of Aqua Star or AquaPro another glyphosate based herbicide may be substituted for it as long as the product is on the Michigan DEQ approved list of aquatic pesticides and related products. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations on all labels for the treatment of Phragmites.

In the State of Michigan DEQ publication A Guide to the Control and Management of Invasive Phragmites It is recommended that you use 1% to 1.5% solution of Glyphosate for low volume applications such as hand swiping or backpack spraying. To make a 1.5% solution you would need to add 1 and one half parts of Aqua Star or AquaPro for each 100 parts of water. Since there are 128 oz. of water in a gallon you would need to put in 1.92 oz. of Aqua Star or AquaPro for each gallon of water. Then, for the surfactant, add 1 oz. of Cygnet Plus pre gallon.


Labels and MSDS Sheets

Aqua Star herbicide label
Aqua Star herbicide MSDS sheet
AquaPro herbicide label
AquaPro herbicide MSDS sheet
Cygnet Plus surfactant label
Cygnet Plus surfactant MSDS sheet


MDA Requirements on the General Use of Herbicides in Michigan

The Michigan Department of Agriculture. Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division is the division of the MDA which regulates and controls, within Michigan, the use of herbicides. They determine which herbicides are considered safe for the public to use and which herbicides only certified pesticide applicators may handle. In addition, this department is responsible for testing certified pesticide contractors. I know this may be confusing, however, this is different from the Michigan DEQ which regulates which herbicides can be used on or near the waters of Michigan. In general you should not need to contact the MDA regarding the treatment of Phragmites.


Additional Information

If you have questions about certifications or permits needed for the use of these products contact the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Agriculture. You can also research your question with the help of our page on Michigan Webpages and Laws. Email Newsletter

If you would like to be on a email list to receive notices of other phragmites control events and information about controlling phragmites send your name to along with a message which says "subscribe."