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Zebra Mussel

Scientific Name

Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas, 1771) (ITIS)

Common Name

Zebra mussel

Native To

Eurasia (NAS Database)

Date of U.S. Introduction

1988 (NAS Database)

Means of Introduction

Ballast water (NAS Database)


Competes with native species; clogs pipes (NAS Database)


  • Mussel-Fouled Boat Intercepted at Anaconda Inspection Station

    • Mar 12, 2024
    • Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

    • Montana’s first mussel-fouled watercraft of the year was intercepted at the Anaconda watercraft inspection station on March 10.

      All watercraft entering the state of Montana with the intent of being launched into any body of water are required to be inspected, including kayaks, canoes, rafts and paddleboards. These inspections are required by law, and failure to comply may result in a fine of up to $500. Learn more how Protect Montana Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species.

  • Army Corps of Engineers: Better Data and Planning Needed to Combat Aquatic Invasive Species

    • Nov 6, 2023
    • United States Government Accountability Office.

    • Quagga and zebra mussels have spread rapidly across the country since they were first discovered in the late 1980s and, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials, have spread to every major river basin in the U.S. except the Columbia River Basin in the northwest. The mussels typically are spread by recreational watercraft such as boats, canoes, and Jet Skis that have been in infested waters. Once established in a water body, the mussel species are extremely difficult to eradicate because they have no natural predators in the U.S. and rapidly reproduce.

      GAO was asked to examine efforts the Corps has undertaken to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species into the Columbia River Basin by recreational watercrafts. This report [PDF, 3.24 MB] provides information on the Corps' Watercraft Inspection and Decontamination Program and its role in helping to prevent the introduction or spread of quagga and zebra mussels—the aquatic invasive species of greatest concern to the Corps—as well as program challenges and opportunities for improvement.

  • Invasive Zebra Mussels Now Confirmed in North Carolina

    • Sep 22, 2023
    • North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.

    • The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) announced today that zebra mussels, a harmful invasive aquatic species, have been identified in an Iredell County waterbody. This is the first time this species has been identified in the wild in North Carolina. On Thursday, September 21, 2023, NCWRC, with assistance from scuba divers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, investigated and confirmed a report of zebra mussels in a quarry on private property. NCWRC believes the mussels are contained to the quarry and is working on options for treatment while continuing its investigation.

      To report suspected zebra mussels, please contact the NCWRC's district fisheries biologist offices. Visit NCWRC's aquatic nuisance species webpage for guidance on disinfecting snorkel and SCUBA gear and for more information on zebra mussels.

  • Zebra Mussels Found in Aquarium Moss Balls

    • 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.

  • Updated Recommendations for the Quagga and Zebra Mussel Action Plan for Western U.S. Waters [PDF, 3.93 MB]

    • Sep 2020
    • 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

  • Invasive Mussels in the American West

    • DOI. United States Geological Survey.

    • A geonarrative by USGS and examining the spread of invasive mussels in the American West.

      See also: Geonarratives for all USGS geonarrative / story map resources

Distribution / Maps / Survey Status

Federally Regulated

  • Injurious Wildlife Listings - Keeping Risky Wildlife Species Out of the United States

    • 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 U.S. or transport between the listed jurisdictions in the shipment clause (the continental U.S., the District of Columbia, Hawaii, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any possession of the U.S.) 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. Preventing the introduction of new harmful species is the only way to fully avoid impacts of injurious species on local, regional, and national economies and infrastructure, and on the natural resources of the U.S.

      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 What Are Injurious Wildlife: A Summary of the Injurious Provisions of the Lacey Act and Summary of Species Currently Listed as Injurious Wildlife.


Selected Resources

The section below contains highly relevant resources for this species, organized by source.

Council or Task Force
Federal Government
State and Local Government