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  Zebra Mussel
  • What is it? The zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) is a tiny (1/8-inch
    to 2-inch) bottom-dwelling clam native to Europe and Asia.  Zebra mussels look like small clams with a yellowish or brownish D-shaped shell, usually with alternating dark- and light-colored stripes. They can be up to two inches long, but most are under an inch. Zebra mussels usually grow in clusters containing numerous individuals.  Zebra mussels were introduced into the Great Lakes in 1985 or 1986, and have been spreading throughout them since that time. They were most likely brought to North America as larvae in ballast water of ships that
    traveled from fresh-water Eurasian ports to the Great Lakes.
  • What's the problem? Zebra mussels feed by drawing water into their bodies and filtering out most of the suspended microscopic plants, animals and debris for food. This process can lead to increased water clarity and a depleted food supply for other aquatic organisms, including fish. The higher light penetration fosters growth of rooted aquatic plants which, although creating more habitat for small fish, may inhibit the larger, predatory fish from finding their food. This thicker plant growth can also interfere with boaters, anglers and swimmers. Zebra mussel infestations may also promote the growth of blue-green algae, since they avoid consuming this type of algae but not others.
  • How is it spread? It is easily spread by boats and trailers either in
    stored water or physically attached.
  • How do I recognize it?
    • Looks like a small clam with yellowish or brownish "D"-shaped shell
    • Usually have dark and light colored stripes
    • Often attached to underwater objects

    For more information visit dnr.wi.gov/invasives/fact/milfoil.htm