Zebra mussels can now be found in every part of the Missouri River bordering Nebraska, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Dave Tunink, Fisheries Division assistant director, says the invasive species reproduces well and moves quickly.
He says there is no good way of killing zebra mussels yet, but you can try to control them.
“If your boat has been in the water for a couple of days, that hull of the boat feels rough like sandpaper, you might have zebra mussels attached,” Tunink tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Once they get to adult stage, they can survive in just moist, humid conditions for weeks, so adults are very hardy.”
The tiny mussels grow to about an inch as adults and Tunink says they begin moving around when they are microscopic.
Once they latch onto something in the water, they don’t let go, and they clump together.
“The biggest issue is the impact on infrastructure, like power plant intakes, boat docks, and stuff like that, where they encrust them with several layers of zebra mussels,” Tunink says. “They also have negative impacts on native mussels and native crustaceans, like crayfish. They’ll attach right to them and smother them.”
Tunink says boats, trailers, and motors need to be cleaned, and any lake or river water emptied before moving on.
Boaters also need to take fish out of their live well when leaving a lake or river.
He says it is best to dry out the well, but says you can use vinegar to clean it too.
“Spray it down. Let it sit there for 20 minutes and then you can rinse it out. But if you’re draining the water, you want to drain it right at the boat dock, so you don’t take it someplace else,” Tunink says. “Don’t move any water, don’t move any mud, and don’t move any vegetation.”
Tunink says they are focused on trying to prevent zebra mussels from getting to lakes inside Nebraska.
Signs warning of zebra mussels and preventing their spread have been posted at boat ramps over the past year.