ATHENS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Invasive zebra mussels have turned up at a Central Texas lake as efforts continue to stop their spread.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Thursday announced zebra mussels were discovered Sept. 18 in Belton Lake, 60 miles north of Austin. It’s the first time zebra mussels have been documented in the Brazos River basin, nearly 200 miles south of where they were previously found in Texas.

Officials say the creatures were likely introduced to the reservoir in 2012.

They were found in Lake Texoma, bordering Oklahoma, in 2009. Since then mussels or their larvae have spread to several lakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“One adult zebra mussel is about the size of a dime or so,” said Brian VanZee with Texas Parks and Wildlife. “But one zebra mussel can spawn up to a million eggs a year. So they’re very prolific and they can spread very very quickly.”

The threat of zebra mussels is so serious that the State of Texas launched a campaign in May 2012 to get boaters to take extra steps to prevent the spread of the invasive water species.

Boaters are required to clean, dry and drain watercraft after they’ve been in waters where the mussels or larvae have been found.

The mussels first appeared in the Great Lakes on one boat from the Balkans in 1988. Now they’re in the length of the Mississippi River and a problem in 29 states.

(© Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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