Zebra mussel larvae have been found in water samples taken from Rainy Lake says the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR says, four out of five samples taken from Rainy Lake, near International Falls, in July of 2021 contained zebra mussel larvae. This suggests that there is a reproducing zebra mussel population in Rainy Lake, but the MDNR says they haven't found any zebra mussels in Rainy Lake and none of the water samples contained microscopic zebra mussel larvae.

In late 2019, the DNR said a substantial number of zebra mussel larvae was found in Lake of the Woods, near the Ontario-Minnesota border. 

"Zebra mussels are highly adapted to various water conditions and temperatures and once they are established they are quite difficult to remove," said Patrick Paulo, Executive Director of the Lake of the Wood District Stewardship Association (LOWDSA).

"They do outcompete the native species in the area through rapid reproduction, they create fewer opportunities for our native fish to have food as well as the wildlife in the area which ultimately reduces other populations," added Paulo noting that the mussels can lead to clearer water, which can lead to toxic algal blooms and increased pathogens in the water.

Earlier this year, LOWDSA launched its Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program which aims to help with the early detection of zebra mussels in Lake of the Woods.

"Members can request a zebra mussel monitoring kit and attach it to their dock, having it there for multiple seasons. Checking it every few weeks to see if there is any presence of zebra mussels," noted Paulo.

LOWDSA also launched the region first's mobile boat washing station this year.

"We were able to have a conversation and educate lake users on the importance of preventing the spread of invasive species and best practices on how to live and play green on the lake, including a clean, drain and, dry, added Paulo. 

To volunteer for the Zebra Mussel Monitoring Program, contact LOWDSA at info.lakesmart@lowdsa.com.

Zebra mussels are invasive species native to the fresh waters in Eurasia. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the mussels "can have significant negative impacts on freshwater habitats by out-competing native species for food."