Stop Zebra Mussels n MO (Word Doc) - Close Window

10 Tips to Prevent the Spread of Zebra Mussels throughout Missouri

Zebra mussels, one of the most notorious unwanted hitchhikers, have already made their way into the Missouri , Mississippi , and Meramec Rivers . It is up to every Missouri resident and tourist to keep from spreading these harmful mussels throughout the rest of the state. Steve McMurray, mussel biologists with the Resource Science Division of MDC states, “Aquatic nuisance species such as the zebra mussel represent the next ecological and socio-economic threat facing our natural aquatic ecosystems. While it is illegal to introduce new aquatic nuisance species into Missouri waters, preventing the spread of zebra mussels will require vigilance from all of us, citizens and tourists alike”.

Why are zebra mussels on the unwanted list?

What can you do to Stop this Aquatic Hitchhiker? The following are 10 tips to help protect your pocket book and Missouri waters.

  1. Inspect. Thoroughly inspect your boat's hull, drive unit, trim plates, trolling plates, prop guards, transducers, anchor, anchor rope and your trailers centerboards, axles and rollers.
  2. Remove. Remove any visible zebra mussels, however small. If zebra mussels are found, scrape off and trash suspected individuals. Also remove weeds and mud, even the smallest of amounts.
  3. Properly Dispose. Left over bait or any thing unwanted items removed from the boat should be properly disposed of in the trash and not thrown back into the waters.
  4. Drain. While on land and before leaving any body of water, drain water from all parts of your boat and equipment such as the motor, live well, bilge, transom wells, and bait buckets.
  5. Clean. Thoroughly rinse your boat, trailer and equipment. If you were in known zebra mussel infested waters, use 104 ° F hot water and/or use the high pressure hot water from do-it-yourself car washes to “de-zebra” your boat.
  6. Dry. All parts of the boat should be dry before entering another body of water. If you were in known infested waters, boats, motors and trailers should be allowed to dry thoroughly in the hot sun for at least five days before boating in another body of water.
  7. Run. If your boat is kept in infested waters, the best way to keep a hull zebra mussel-free is to run the boat frequently. Juvenile zebra mussels are quite soft and are scoured off the hull at high speeds.
  8. Up/Pump. When in zebra mussel infested waters, leave outboards or outdrives in the up position and pump hot water through your engine's intake on a regular basis to prevent growth inside the engine's cooling system.
  9. Identify the enemy. Learn what these organisms look like (at least those you can see). If you suspect any new infestations of an exotic plant or animal, report it to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
  10. Pass the word. If you know people who recreate on Missouri waters (particularly those who boat in out of state waters or in the big rivers of Missouri ), talk to them about the importance of following these procedures to protect your waters.
For more information on stopping aquatic hitchhikers, go to or contact the Missouri Department of Conservation.