Zebra Mussels appear harmless due to their tiny 1-inch stature, but they are a destructive invasive species that is currently spreading throughout Texas. They dwell in various lakes and spread by latching onto boats and trailers, traveling with whoever is driving. Once they reach their destination, they can produce up to one million microscopic larvae. This is especially dangerous because the larva is microscopic (invisible to the naked eye) so their presence is hidden. How are they harmful? They can cause both economic and environmental damage, such as hurting aquatic life, damaging boats, hindering water recreation and threatening water supply.
Zebra Mussels are a huge threat, but they are only one of the invasive species endangering Texas’ environment that I have come across in my searches today. As a native Texan, this makes me want to take action against something I didn’t know existed just a week ago. I was always under the impression that man should leave nature alone and our involvement is what damages the ecosystem. I recently learned that sometimes nature harms itself, and human intervention is necessary. According to this article on Zebra Mussels (“Hello Zebra Mussels. Goodbye Texas Lakes.“), doing your part to help the environment is as easy as regularly cleaning your boat and waiting a couple days for it to properly dry off.
I don’t own a boat or live by a lake so I can’t do much to protect against Zebra Mussels, I can however protect against various other invasive species when I hike or camp. In the past, I have taken souvenirs such as rocks, sticks, leaves, etc home with me after an outing, but apparently this is dangerous as these things may contain seeds, diseases, insects, or other potentially invasive organisms. Like the boats, it’s also important to thoroughly clean the outsides of bikes and cars to get rid of unwanted seeds or plants. When gardening, I will make sure to landscape only with native plants and to avoid exotic ones. To me, the scariest thing about invasive species is that the things we do without thinking (leaving our bikes dirty, planting a pretty yet unknown flower) can negatively impact our environment. Taking action against invasive species is very simple, but so little people are informed about it.