Photo credit: Randy Westbrooks, U.S. Geological Survey, Bugwood.org
A shellfish named for its striped shell, growing up to 2 inches long
Native to Russia; spread to western Europe in the 19th century
First identified in the U.S. in 1988 in the Great Lakes region, it probably arrived in the ballast of a transatlantic ship.
In less than ten years, it spread to all five Great Lakes and the Mississippi, Tennessee, Hudson and Ohio River basins.
Zebra mussels form dense colonies of as many as one million individuals per square meter on any hard surface, including boats, pipes, piers, docks, plants, clams and even other Zebra mussels. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has estimated a $5 billion economic impact over a 10-year period from the costs of activities such as cleaning and maintenance of water intake pipes, removal of shell build-up on recreational beaches, and control efforts.
Zebra mussel was discovered in one quarry pond in northern Virginia in 2003. VDGIF is leading control efforts. Early detection and response has thus far prevented zebra mussel from becoming established in Virginia.