What are zebra mussels?
Zebra mussels are a small, destructive invasive species that can spread across Texas by hitching a ride on boats and trailers. They grow to only about 1 ½ inches and develop a distinctive zebra-striped shell. One zebra mussel can produce up to one million microscopic larvae. Zebra mussels can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage – hurting aquatic life, damaging your boat, hindering water recreation and even threatening your water supply.
Where are zebra mussels?
Zebra mussels are currently in the following lakes: Texoma, Ray Roberts, Lewisville, Bridgeport, Lavon, Waco and Belton. They have also been found on isolated occasions in Lake Ray Hubbard, Lake Grapevine, Lake Fork, Lake Takwoni, the Red River below Lake Texoma, the Elm Fork of the Trinity River, and Sister Grove Creek.
Zebra mussels hide here
You can't always see zebra mussels because their larvae are invisible to the naked eye. They can survive for days in water trapped in a boat. The only way to be sure you're not carrying zebra mussels to another body of water is to always clean, drain and dry your boat, trailer and gear.
Clean your boat, trailer and gear by removing all plants, animals and foreign objects.
Drain all water from the boat, including the motor, bilge, live wells and bait buckets, before leaving the lake.
Dry the boat and trailer for a week or more before entering another water body. If unable to let it dry for at least a week, wash it with a high-pressure washer and hot (at least 140-degree), soapy water.
Transporting zebra mussels is illegal
Possession or transportation of zebra mussels in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor for the first offense, punishable by a fine of up to $500. Repeat offenses can be elevated to a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, jail time up to 180 days, or both.
Boaters are required to drain all water from their vessel, including live wells, bilges, motors and any other receptacles, before approaching or leaving a water body. This applies to all types and sizes of boats used on fresh waters, effective July 1.
Learn more about regulations related to zebra mussels.
Report a sighting
We need your help to stop the spread of zebra mussels! Please report any new sightings, and if possible, take a picture of the zebra mussel and record its GPS location.
Facts about zebra mussels
Check out the zebra mussel profile in the Invasive Animals Database for more information on biology, history, habitat, distribution and management of this invasive species.
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Zebra mussels hurt us all
Zebra mussels multiply rapidly over large areas, lack natural predators in Texas lakes and can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage.
- Zebra mussels can damage boats by encrusting boat hulls; clogging water systems used in boat motors, air conditioners and heads; and by causing navigation buoys to sink.
- Zebra mussels can disrupt water supplies by colonizing inside pipelines and restricting the flow of water, damaging water intake structures that provide water to thousands of homes and businesses, making water more expensive.
- Zebra mussels take over habitats from native species, damaging lake ecology and affecting fish populations.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has developed this public awareness campaign to stop the spread of zebra mussels and the devastating threat they pose to our state's aquatic ecosystems, private property and water-related infrastructure, such as water supply systems. This campaign is made possible by a coalition of partners, including:
- Tarrant Regional Water District
- Trinity River Authority
- City of Dallas
- North Texas Municipal Water District
- City of Waco
- Sabine River Authority
- Brazos River Authority
- City of Grapevine
- San Jacinto River Authority
- Guadalupe Blanco River Authority
- Lower Colorado River Authority
- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
- City of Houston
- Water Oriented Recreation District of Comal County
- Upper Trinity Regional Water District
- Canadian River Municipal Water Authority