Zebra and quagga mussels are capable of attaching to almost any hard substrate, including boats and any gear that has been left in water. When watercraft and equipment are moved from an infested body of water, invasive mussels may be moved too, if no preventative measures are taken. See the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force’s Voluntary Guidelines for recreational users for more information about additional steps you can take to prevent the spread of invasive mussels!
Prevention Methods for Recreational Boaters
- Inspect and clean off any visible aquatic plants, animals, and mud from all equipment before leaving water access.
- Drain motor, bilge, livewell, and other water containing devices before leaving water access.
- Dry everything for five days or more or wipe with a towel before reuse.
Drying times may vary depending on the climate of an area. The 100th Meridian’s Drying Time Calculator can be used to estimate the amount of time a vessel should remain out of water before being re-launched into a body of water.
How-to for paddlers:
How-to for motor boats:
For recreational equipment/boats that have been left in water bodies for more than a day, more thorough decontamination protocols should be followed:
- Spray/rinse recreational equipment with high pressure hot water to clean off mud and kill aquatic invasive species when possible.
- Flush motor according to owner’s manual.
Larval mussels, or veligers, can survive in small amounts of standing water for several days. It is important to thoroughly drain, dry, and decontaminate gear and boats before using them in another body of water. Always use hot (>140°F) water whenever possible; hot water kills invasive species, while high pressure will remove them from a surface.
Several states utilize watercraft inspections as another line of protection against the spread of invasive mussels. At inspection stations, boats are checked to ensure that there are no invasive species, visible or not, attached to the watercraft. To learn more about watercraft inspections, see the Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force’s Uniform Minimum Protocols and Standards for Watercraft Interception Programs for Dreissenid Mussels in the Western United States.