An official website of the United States government.

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites always use a .gov or .mil domain. Before sharing sensitive information online, make sure you’re on a .gov or .mil site by inspecting your browser’s address (or “location”) bar.

This site is also protected by an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate that’s been signed by the U.S. government. The https:// means all transmitted data is encrypted — in other words, any information or browsing history that you provide is transmitted securely.

Zebra Mussel

View all resources
Zebra mussel
Zebra mussel, adult - Photo by Amy Benson; U.S. Geological Survey
Scientific Name: 
Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas, 1771) (ITIS)
Common Name: 
Zebra mussel
Native To: 
Eurasia (NAS Database)
Date of U.S. Introduction: 
Means of Introduction: 
Ballast water (NAS Database)
Impact: 
Competes with native species; clogs pipes (NAS Database)

Spotlights

Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Wildlife Resources Division.

Wildlife officials are warning Georgia boat owners to be on the lookout for an invasive species that could cause millions of dollars in damages throughout the state. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources says zebra mussels, an eastern European species that is considered invasive, were found on a boat taken to Lake Lanier after being used on the Tennessee River near Chattanooga.

Invasive zebra mussels have been found in "moss balls” an aquarium plant product sold at aquarium and pet supply stores.  Zebra mussels are regarded as one of the most destructive invasive species in North America. Learn more about the situation, rapid response efforts by federal and state agencies, and how to properly destroy the moss balls to prevent the spread of zebra mussels.

DOI. United States Geological Survey.

Invasive zebra and quagga mussels are an immediate threat to Western states. With no controls, they spread rapidly, foul boats and equipment, clog water intake, and increase costs to hydropower operations and municipal water utilities. Even dead mussels can be a nuisance, littering beaches with shells. Management of these invaders is expensive; in the Great Lakes, managing mussels costs about $500 million annually. Until 2007, the mussels were limited to waterways and lakes east of the Mississippi, but now they have spread westward. In 2016, quagga mussels were found in Lake Powell.

Unfortunately, there are no foolproof existing technologies or treatments to eradicate established mussel populations in large, open water systems in an environmentally sound manner. Early warning, however, helps us prepare before the mussels or other invasive species arrive.

United States Department of the Interior.

The Administration announced a new interagency conservation agreement to protect western water supplies, power generation, outdoor recreation and aquatic ecosystems by strengthening efforts to combat invasive mussels.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, and six Department of the Interior bureaus focuses on boosting federal coordination, communication and collaboration to enhance the capacity of federal, state and tribal agencies to rapidly respond to discoveries of invasive mussels in western states.

Western Regional Panel on Aquatic Nuisance Species.

The Western Regional Panel prepared Quagga and Zebra Mussel Action Plan 2.0 to inform ongoing management and partnership efforts intended to minimize the spread and impacts from zebra and quagga mussels in the western United States. The original QZAP action items have guided prevention, containment, research, and management to address the ecological and economic impacts of invasive quagga and zebra mussels since 2009. The purpose of QZAP 2.0 is to provide a systematic and unified approach to prevent the spread of zebra and quagga mussels into and within the western United States in the future. The urgency and the need for such a coordinated approach remain as important today as ever before. Newly infested waters, increased boating pressure, and gained public and political awareness drove the need for the Western Regional Panel to acknowledge and learn from the past and set forth a new collective path towards the future. These recommendations are intended to inform decision-making to provide increased capacity and clear direction that empowers the further implementation of a collaborative and coordinated multi-jurisdictional regional strategy to prevent the spread of quagga and zebra mussels in the West. For more resources, see: Key Documents

Western Governors' Association.

Officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced in June 2017 that DOI would coordinate with the Western Governors' Association, states, tribes, federal agencies, and other partners in a project to help strengthen existing efforts to address invasive mussels. The actions described in the 2017 report, Safeguarding the West from Invasive Species, Actions to Strengthen Federal, State, and Tribal Coordination to Address Invasive Mussels (PDF | 1.3 MB), vary from policy and program reviews to on-the-ground efforts to prevent, contain, and control invasive mussels. One recommendation in Safeguarding the West was the development of a reference manual to facilitate rapid response activities in the event of mussel introductions in the Columbia River Basin. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently finalized and released this manual, Dreissenid Mussel Rapid Response in the Columbia River Basin: Recommended Practices to Facilitate Endangered Species Act Section 7 Compliance (PDF | 3.63 MB).

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

DOI. USGS. Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.
Provides detailed collection information as well as animated map.

Federally Regulated

DOI. FWS. Fish and Aquatic Conservation.

Includes species listed as injurious wildlife under the Federal Lacey Act (18 USC 42), which makes it illegal to import injurious wildlife into the United States or transport between the listed jurisdictions in the shipment clause (the continental United States, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any possession of the United States) without a permit. An injurious wildlife listing would not prohibit intrastate transport or possession of that species within a State where those activities are not prohibited by the State.

Injurious wildlife are wild mammals, wild birds, amphibians, reptiles, fishes, crustaceans, mollusks and their offspring or eggs that are injurious to the interests of human beings, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, wildlife or wildlife resources of the U.S. Plants and organisms other than those stated above cannot be listed as injurious wildlife. For more information, see Injurious Wildlife: A Summary of the Injurious Provisions of the Lacey Act (Dec 2017; PDF | 401 KB)

Images

University of Georgia. Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health.
DOI. USGS. Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.

Videos

Google. YouTube; Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source. Or, to display all related content view all resources for Zebra Mussel.

Council or Task Force

Alberta Invasive Species Council (Canada).

See also: Fact Sheets for more information about individual invasive species, including those listed as "Prohibited Noxious" and "Noxious" under the Alberta Weed Control Act

Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. Washington Invasive Species Council.

Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force.
Partnership
European Network on Invasive Alien Species.
See also: NOBANIS Fact Sheets for invasive alien species of the European region, covering both animals and plants, as well as microorganisms
IUCN. Species Survival Commission. Invasive Species Specialist Group.

Ontario's Invading Species Awareness Program (Canada).

DOI. U.S. Geological Survey; Great Lakes Commission; DOC. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
Northeast Aquatic Nuisance Species Panel.
Great Britain Non-Native Species Secretariat.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Galveston Bay Estuary Program; Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC).

Federal Government

Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Marine Invasions Research Lab.

DOI. USGS. Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.

Provides distribution maps and collection information (State and County).

DOI. Bureau of Reclamation. 
State and Local Government

New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

See also: Publications - Invasive for more resources

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Office of Water Resources.
See also: Aquatic Invasive Animals for species of concern

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism.

Missouri Department of Conservation.

Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

California Department of Fish and Game.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources.

Academic

Virginia Tech; Virginia State University. Virginia Cooperative Extension.

University of Minnesota. Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.

Pennsylvania State University. Pennsylvania Sea Grant.
See also: Aquatic Invasive Species: Resources for additional species information
Columbia University. Center for Environmental Research and Conservation.
Paul Smith's College (New York). Adirondack Watershed Institute.

University of California - Riverside. Center for Invasive Species Research.

Citations