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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 rapidly from the Red River basin to the Trinity, Brazos, Colorado, Guadalupe, and San Antonio river basins.

Twenty-eight Texas lakes across five river basins can be currently (June 2021) classified as "infested" with zebra mussels, meaning that the water body has an established, reproducing population: Austin, Belton, Bridgeport, Brownwood, Canyon, Dean Gilbert (a 45-acre Community Fishing Lake in Sherman), Eagle Mountain, Georgetown, Granger, Grapevine, Inks, Lady Bird, Lewisville, Livingston, Lyndon B. Johnson, Marble Falls, Medina, O.H. Ivie, Pflugerville, Placid, Randell (access for Denison residents only), Ray Roberts, Richland Chambers, Stillhouse Hollow, Texoma, Travis, and Worth. Zebra mussels or their larvae have been detected on more than one occasion in these water bodies but so far there is no evidence of a reproducing population: Dunlap, Fishing Hole (a small lake connected to the Trinity River below Lake Lewisville), Lavon, McQueeney, Medina, and Walter E. Long, as well as river reaches downstream of infested lakes on the Colorado, Guadalupe, Lampasas, Leon, Little, Red, and Trinity rivers; these water bodies are classified as "positive" for zebra mussels. Zebra mussels or their larvae have been found once in Lake Ray Hubbard, classifying this water body as "suspect". (See map) Several other lakes are considered "Inconclusive" due to recent DNA-only detections.

Experts fear they could spread to many other water bodies in Texas; biologists with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and partners are monitoring many high-risk 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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NOTE: We are expriencing an issue in which after you click on the "Submit Report Now" button below, you will be directed to a blank page. HOWEVER, don't worry, your report will be submitted! (You may simply close the blank page.)