Thursday, May 24, 2012

Relax, it's just slime mold

We humans are such visual creatures, always making judgments based solely on how people or things appear. It's why some of us don't eat cottage cheese or guacamole, why we won't talk to the girl with 40 piercings on her face, or why we recoil in horror from a vomit-like substance on our mulch beds:

If you see this on your mulch, don't scream. It may look extremely disgusting, but it's actually a harmless, fungus-type growth known as slime mold. The popular name for one variety, based on its appearance (what else?), is "Dog Vomit."

From University of Illinois extension educator Sandra Martin:

"Slime molds are not true fungus but can appear on the top of mulch. Slime molds are often bright yellow, but can also be white, gray, brown or red. They can vary from a few inches in diameter to a foot across. They are not decomposing the mulch, but are living off the bacteria and other critters in the mulch."

Slime molds like the "Dog's Vomit" kind are not parasitic and so pose no danger to your plants or family.

The easiest way to remove slime mold is to simply shovel it out of the bed. You can even leave it there if you don't feel like dealing with it, as it will lose its color, turn into a powdery form (spores) and disappear within one week. Watering slime mold will disperse the spores into a cloud, so unless you want the neighbor kids to suck in a big dose of spores, don't shoot it with the hose.

For more information on slime molds visit this page at the University of Illinois Extension or call the experts at Whispering Hills: 847-658-5610.