Ken’s Quick Tip: Dog Vomit Fungus

Over the years, I’ve had numerous calls from Village Green customers trying to determine what this ‘disgusting’ yellow blob was in their yard or landscaped beds. These customers usually send a photo to me to help them diagnose this alien looking lump that appeared overnight. The funniest part is when they provide their own theories on what it could be while asking my professional opinion, the theories range from scrambled eggs to a giant bird’s poop.

It is actually dog vomit fungus (which pretty well sums up what it looks like to most people.) I’ve also heard it called scrambled egg fungus too. I don’t want to gross anyone out so if you want to see some examples click here for some Google images.

Whatever you call this fungus, the thing to note is that it isn’t really a fungus in the first place. It is a slime mold that is technically known as Fuligo septicai. It usually shows up during warm, wet periods, and seemingly appears out of nowhere overnight. Fuligo septicai most often grows in wood mulches or along the side of untreated wood. It can also grow in your grass.

The stuff is not only gross, it can be scary looking and many customers are concerned that it is going to harm their plants. It won’t. Slime molds like Fuligo septicai are saprophytic, which is a fancy way of saying they feed on decaying organic material. They are not a disease and won’t harm your plants. The worst-case scenario is that a large enough colony forms and smothers a plant, but this is very rare. More often you’ll find a patch in one of your landscaped beds mulch that is roughly the size of dog vomit (thus the name.)

If you have an outbreak of dog vomit fungus the best way to control and contain it is to break it up and dry it out. If it’s growing in mulch or leaf litter you can rake it up and dispose of it (I wouldn’t recommend putting it in your compost though.) If it is growing along lumber or tree stumps you can scrape it off with a small trowel or shovel and dispose of it. If it is on your lawn or plants, gently rake it the best you can to get rid of it. A strong blast of water will also dislodge any of the remaining fungi still clinging to the plants (thought that may give it the fuel to pop up later.)

Speaking of which, slime molds produce spores that are wind-borne. Surprisingly they are resistant and can survive in dry, hot weather with the spores remaining viable for several years as they wait for the right warm, moist conditions to thrive.

As I hope this Quick Tip illustrates, I really do love ALL questions, even ones asking if a giant bird pooped in my lawn! If you have a question regarding your lawn and landscape give us call at 972.495.6990 or email me at [email protected].