zebra mussel


: a chiefly freshwater Eurasian lamellibranch mollusk (Dreissena polymorpha) that was accidentally introduced into the Great Lakes and has spread to other waterways where it colonizes and clogs water intake pipes and competes with native fish for food

Examples of zebra mussel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Invasive zebra mussels, which hitchhiked into the lakes in 1989, are also found along the bottom of the lake. Caitlin Looby, Journal Sentinel, 2 May 2024 Still, other species such as Asian carp and zebra mussels are doing big damage, especially in our waterways. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, 27 Feb. 2024 Among the species identified as the most likely invaders were the alewife, zebra mussel and red swamp crayfish. Kinsey Crowley, USA TODAY, 11 Jan. 2024 While much smaller, just finger-nail sized, zebra mussels have also caused huge problems with algal blooms and clogging pipes. Sarah Bowman, The Indianapolis Star, 27 Feb. 2024 And many other invasive species, including zebra mussels, can also be moved in ballast water. Journal Sentinel, 27 Jan. 2024 That includes the quagga and zebra mussels, which hitched rides on oceangoing ships from their original habitats in Eastern Europe to reach the Great Lakes in the 1980s and the West Coast by 2008, destroying freshwater mussel farms along the way. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 24 Oct. 2023 Researchers say the clock is ticking for many of these wrecks, which are being damaged by invasive zebra mussels and quagga mussels. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 17 Oct. 2023 And while zebra mussels prefer hard surfaces, quaggas can attach to soft surfaces at greater depths, enabling them to colonize even the lakes' sandy bottoms. CBS News, 23 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'zebra mussel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


so named from a comparison of the irregular dark striping on the shell to a zebra's stripes

First Known Use

1866, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of zebra mussel was in 1866

Dictionary Entries Near zebra mussel

Cite this Entry

“Zebra mussel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/zebra%20mussel. Accessed 29 May. 2024.

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