Quagga and Zebra Mussels: Invasive Species for Dummies

Where did they come from?

You may have read about these nasty little creatures called quagga and zebra mussels. Where did they come from? They originally came from most likely the Ukraine in the ballast tanks of boats. While in Ukraine the boats would fill up their ballast tanks with water to help balance the ship. This water would contain anything growing over there including quagga and zebra mussels. Once the ship got to the Great Lakes area it may let some of this water out, for balancing purposes, inadvertantly letting the mussels out as well. The first mussels were found in the Great Lakes in the mid 1980’s and quickly spread down river. After awhile they began popping up in other fresh water areas and it was realized that they can attach themselves to boats and other equipment, survive for up to 30 days out of water and be reintroduced to the next place a boat happened to launch. Once quagga or zebra mussels arrive in a body of water they decide to breed, and breeding is something they are good at. One mature female can produce up to a million eggs per cycle and depending on temperature conditions this can occur multiple times a year. With that many babies it is no wonder their populations can explode.