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Photographer: Amy Benson
Source: U.S. Geological Survey
Cover photo: TPWD Photo Archives

Zebra Mussels

Dreissena polymorpha

Origin: Native of Russia

Impact: The zebra mussel is a highly invasive, small freshwater mussel that multiplies rapidly and can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage. Their larvae are microscopic, and the adults are usually less than 1 1/2 inches long. Zebra mussels are usually found in large clusters, have a salient zebra-like striped pattern on their shells, and lie flat on a smooth surface, unlike many other mussels. According to the online National Atlas of the United States, "Once zebra mussels become established in a water body, they are impossible to eradicate with the technology currently available."

The spread of zebra mussels: Originally from the Balkans, Poland and the former Soviet Union, zebra mussels are firmly established in Europe and have invaded much of the U.S. On April 3, 2009, the first adult zebra mussel in Texas waters was confirmed in Lake Texoma. Zebra mussels have spread from the Red River basin to the Trinity and, most recently, the Brazos river basin. Zebra mussels are currently in Lake Texoma, Lake Ray Roberts, Lewisville Lake, Lake Bridgeport, Lake Lavon, Lake Waco, Dean Gilbert (a 45-acre Community Fishing Lake in Sherman), and Lake Belton. They have also been found on isolated occasions in the Red River below Lake Texoma, the Elm Fork of the Trinity River below Lake Ray Roberts, and Sister Grove Creek, and a boat with zebra mussels attached was found in Lake Ray Hubbard. Zebra mussel DNA has been found in several other lakes where larvae and adults have not been found to verify their presence. Experts fear they could spread to many other water bodies in Texas; biologists with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and partners are monitoring many water bodies in Texas for the presence of zebra mussels.

Learn More:
Hello Zebra Mussels. Goodbye Texas Lakes.
Species Profile Page

Report Form

If you have spotted Dreissena polymorpha (Zebra Mussels), use this report form to send an email to the appropriate authorities.

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