Zebra Mussel Control

A small freshwater mollusk called the zebra mussel ( Dreissena polymorpha ), has been steadily invading America's rivers and lakes. Zebra mussels originated in the Balkans, Poland, and the former Soviet Union. They first appeared in North America in 1988 in Lake St. Clair, a small water body connecting Lake Huron and Lake Erie. Biologists believe the zebra mussels were picked up in a freshwater European port in the ballast water of a ship and were later discharged into the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair.

Zebra mussels get their name from the striped pattern of their shells, though not all shells bear this pattern. They're usually about fingernail size but can grow to a maximum length of nearly 2 inches. Zebra mussels live 4 to 5 years and inhabit fresh water at depths of 6 to 24 feet. A female zebra mussel begins to reproduce at 2 years of age, and produces between 30,000 and 1 million eggs per year. About two percent of zebra mussels reach adulthood.

Young zebra mussels are small and free swimming, and can be easily spread by water currents. Older zebra mussels attach themselves to hard surfaces by an external organ called a byssus, which consists of many threads. The mussels may attach to boats, pilings, water-intake pipes, and other hard surfaces, as well as to crayfish, turtles, other zebra mussels, and native mollusks. While zebra mussels can attach themselves securely, they may also move, and can reattach themselves easily if dislodged by storms.

Zebra mussels upset ecosystems, threaten native wildlife, damage structures, and cause other serious problems. Millions of dollars are spent each year in attempting to control these small but numerous mollusks.

Zebra Mussels can be controlled through the following means:

1. Oxidizing Biocides (Chlorine, Bromine, Chlorine Dioxide, KMnO4, H2O2, Ozone, etc).

2. Filtration

3. Heat Treatment

4. Suffocation by elimination of Oxygen

5. Starving by elimination of essential nutrients

6. Mussel Resistant Coatings

7. Extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetism

8. Molluscicides

9. Quaternary Ammonium Compounds


Compiled by Rami E. Kremesti M.Sc.