zebra mussel
Dreissena polymorpha (Pallas)
Image by Amy Benson, USGS

Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha)

Zebra Mussel Map
Image by USGS

Map by USGS on HUC level record of zebra mussels in the United States

Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels ( Dreissena polymorpha) and quagga mussels (D. bugensis) were introduced into the Great Lakes in the mid- to late-1980s from freshwater ballast discharged from freighters originating in the Black and Caspian Sea region of eastern Europe and western Asia.They filter vast amounts of plankton, decreasing the food source of other species and subsequently causing a lack of clarity in the water (from NY SeaGrant).


US Geologic Survey offers information and photos on identification, range, ecology and impacts.

New York Sea Grant page includes several in-depth fact sheets on the arrival and progression of the zebra mussel in New York waterways, and their impact on native species; how to identify juvenile members of the species; answers to questions frequently asked by impacted communities; and how to control zebra mussels relative to private drinking water systems and fire equipment. 

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers: Zebra Mussels offers information on identifying zebra mussels and how they have spread in the United States, why they are harmful, and steps to take to stop their spread,

Invasive Mussels from the National Wildlife Federation covers reproduction, diet, prevention, and control of invasive mussels.

Preventing the Spread of Zebra Mussels

  • 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: boat, trailer and gear at least 5 days before entering another water body. If unable to let it dry for at least 5 days, rinse equipment and watercraft (with high pressure, hot water when possible) and wipe with a towel before reuse. 
  • DISPOSE of unwanted live bait and worms in the trash. 
  • NEVER introduce fish, plants, crayfish, snails or clams from one body of water to another.

Last updated September 19, 2023