Quagga mussel eradication confirmed in historic Pennsylvania lake

Apr 16, 2019

Test results show no evidence of quagga mussels two years after eradication project.

Bainbridge, Penn. – Recent test results show no evidence of invasive mussels in the historic Billmeyer Quarry near Bainbridge, Penn. The results offer renewed hope that a recent quagga mussel eradication project was successful. If the quagga mussel population fails to rebound, the project will mark an unprecedented victory in the effort to halt their spread.

SOLitude Lake Management helped run the 2017 quagga mussel eradication project. The Virginia-based company provides sustainable lake and pond management solutions throughout the country. Treatment of invasive species such as quagga mussels is one of their most sought-after services.

The scale of the quarry project presented a challenge. At 29 acres and 115 feet deep, Billmeyer Quarry is the largest and deepest lake ever treated for quagga mussels. For assistance, SOLitude called in a science team from Earth Science Laboratories (ESL). Senior Scientist Dr. David Hammond from ESL supervised the application of a low-dose, liquid-copper molluscicide called EarthTec® QZ.

The treatment killed quagga mussels with minimal impact on native wildlife. “Water samples taken less than a year after treatment showed that copper concentrations had returned to pre-treatment levels,” Hammond said. “Fish populations are normal, and the zooplankton population is thriving. Independent experts have described the lake’s post-treatment ecology as very rich.”

The most recent test for quagga mussels was conducted by an independent laboratory. The Montana Conservation Genomics Lab analyzed samples from the quarry for environmental DNA, or eDNA. This method can reveal quagga mussel genetic material even when there are no obvious signs of living mussels in a lake. The results were negative, suggesting that quagga mussel eradication was successful and no live mussels remain in the lake.

“Quagga mussels are notoriously hard to eradicate,” Hammond said. “This test was part of a collaborative effort to monitor the lake for signs that the population may recover. While it is difficult to say definitively that quaggas are no longer present, we are optimistic that eradication has been achieved.”

SOLitude Lake Management provides customized, comprehensive and sustainable management services for lakes and ponds. The company works closely with manufacturers such as ESL to provide field research for innovative water treatment products and technologies. More information is available at solitudelakemanagement.com.

Earth Science Laboratories Inc. manufactures advanced water treatment products for use in municipal, agricultural and recreational waters. EarthTec QZ is an EPA registered molluscicide for controlling quagga mussels and zebra mussels in pipelines and open waters. It is NSF Certified to Standard 60 as an additive to drinking water. More information is available at earthtecqz.com.

The Montana Conservation Genomics Lab is a cooperative lab focusing on eDNA and conservation genomics. The lab is run by the Flathead Lake Biological Station and the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation at the University of Montana. More information is available at https://flbs.umt.edu/newflbs/services/montana-conservation-genomics-laboratory-mcgl.