It's bad when an invasive species is barging its way into our wild outdoor places. It's worse when they start invading your home.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks announced that zebra mussels, which have moved into lakes in the state, have now been found in moss balls that are sold at local pet stores for use in fish aquariums. They have been found in South Dakota as well as across the country.

If you aren't a pet fish kind of person, here's what's happening. Moss balls are a thing people put in their fish tanks. The zebra mussels attached themselves to the naturally occurring moss balls, which are a pretty cool thing in nature, and then get released back into the wild when people flush them down a toilet or rinse them into a drain.

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“The department requests that customers and store owners do not dispose of moss balls down the drain, toilet or other water sources as this could allow zebra mussel to spread further,” stated Tanner Davis, GFP’s statewide aquatic invasive species coordinator in a press release.

Pet stores and distributors of these products are working to get them off shelves as quickly as possible.

If you have moss balls GFP and the US Department of Fish and Wildlife are urging you to destroy the moss balls and throw them in the garbage. Fish and Wildlife have three ways to destroy them satisfactorily:

  • Freeze - Place the moss ball into a sealable plastic bag and freeze for at least 24 hours.
  • Boil - Place the moss ball in boiling water for at least 1 full minute.
  • Bleach / Vinegar - Submerge the moss ball in chlorine bleach or undiluted white vinegar for 20 minutes.

The fuss with zebra mussels is that they are not native to this continent, they spread rather easily, and they wreck things like hydroelectric plants, city water supplies, and boat motors.

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