HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — With trout fishing season underway and other spring fishing and boating activities picking up, the authorities want to remind anglers and boaters to be aware of an invasive species.

New Zealand Mudsnails are an aquatic invasive species that are roughly the size of a match head that are popular in cold-water trout fisheries in central and eastern Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC). In some infested waters, the mudsnails have the potential to reach densities of hundreds or even thousands of snails per square foot.

New Zealand Mudsnails (photo via the PFBC)

The mudsnails are not harmful to humans, but they can compete with and negatively impact freshwater invertebrate species, such as other snails and aquatic insects. To help stop their spread, the PFBC asks you properly disinfect your gear by using some of the following techniques:

  • Freezing gear for at least six hours
  • Soaking gear in hot water greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit for at least five minutes
  • Soaking gear for five minutes in a one-to-one solution of water and Formula 409® Cleaner Degreaser Disinfectant (note: Other Formula 409 products and other cleaning agents are not known to disinfect for New Zealand Mudsnails)

Boats, especially kayaks and canoes, should be inspected upon exiting the water, and all vegetation should be removed before leaving the area.

“New Zealand Mudsnails can be found on rocks and vegetation and are easily spread to new waters by attaching to waders, fishing gear, and boats,” PFBC Invasive Species Coordinator Sean Hartzell said.  “Because they are so small, these snails can be difficult to notice. They breed parthenogenically, meaning it just takes just one snail to start a new population.  It is vital for anglers and boaters to properly disinfect their gear after every fishing or boating trip, especially when moving from one water to another.”

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For more information on aquatic invasive species and disinfection, visit the “Clean Your Gear” section of the PFBC. Those who notice what looks like New Zealand Mudsnails or other aquatic species may report their sightings to the Commission online by clicking here.