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Zebra Mussel

Photo by Randy Westbrooks, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org

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Common Name: Zebra mussel
Scientific Name: Dreissena polymorpha
Origin: Eurasia


Zebra mussels are filter-feeding freshwater bivalve mollusks. Zebra mussels are small, ¼” to 1 ½” long, and D-shaped with light and dark brown stripes.


Zebra mussels inhabit freshwater to depths of 50 feet, attaching to most surfaces including sand, silt, and harder substrates.


Invasive mussels displace native species, attach to and cover many surfaces, have sharp shells, and are a nuisance to humans. Although they have some predators, they breed faster than they can be consumed. As filter feeders, they remove particles from the water, affecting the clarity, content, and ultimately the food chain of aquatic ecosystems.


Once established, very little can be done apart from manual removal. In closed human systems such as water treatment plants, chemical, thermal, electrical, and biological controls can be used. The best method is prevention by cleaning boats, bait buckets, and gear.

Distribution: View Map

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