Dog vomit fungus is not a true fungus. It is known to grow on rotting plants, decaying wood, and mulch in irregular patches. Its growth is favored by warm humid weather. When it creeps onto nearby living plants, concerns arise as to whether it could harm them or affect productivity. Below we explore dog vomit fungus life cycle stages, control and if it is edible.
Dog Vomit Fungus
Dog vomit fungus is not only gross in appearance as its name depicts but also scary for persons that have no idea what it is. Also referred to as dog mold fungus, dog vomit slime mold, scrambled egg slime mold or flowers of tan, dog vomit fungus is known as Fuligo septica in its scientific name. It is a species of plasmodial slime mold.
While it may appear like dog yellow vomit, it is not and has no association with dogs. It is also not a fungus but slime mold living off the dead organic matter. This slime is quite disgusting to look at as would be dog vomit. It is also foamy and slimy and the name dog vomit mold fungus describes it best.
Mostly appearing on woodchip and mulches during the rainy season, it starts off appearing bright yellow in color before turning tan and then drying up. While on these, it feeds on dead material and the microbes residing in them but does no harm to living plants. They thus play an important role in the ecosystem by breaking down materials and returning nutrients to the soil.
The slime is not harmful to plants as they are saprophytic meaning they feed on dead matter. As the weather dries, it tends to disappear. During the wet season and when it starts to warm up, the spores of the slime start moving around before aggregating into a yellowish spongy mass referred to as Plasmodium. With time, it hardens turning brownish-tan. It eventually breaks up after drying up and is blown away.
Dog Vomit Fungus Life Cycle
Dog Vomit fungus is closely related to single-celled organisms and has two life stages. The plasmodium stage is the first one. In this stage, the slime mold looks like one huge amoeba forming a blob on dead matter and engulfing it. It feeds on the fungus, yeast, and bacteria on these materials. At this point, the blob is yellow in color and quite conspicuous.
The second stage which is known as sporangia occurs when the slime mold is ready to reproduce and is often characterized by dry dusty spores which easily blow off to start a new life as plasmodia. At this stage, the dog vomit fungus develops into a mature mold which loses its attractive color, has a larger mass and is harder. It is less noticeable too and becomes crusty and unappealing. This final stage is favored by dry conditions and diminished food supply.
Slime Mold Pictures
To further understand the appearance in the different life cycle stages, below are dog vomit fungus pictures:
Treatment and Control of Dog Vomit Fungus
Since this species of slime mold is harmless to animals and plants, no control or treatment is necessary. It does no harm to your plants and is only unattractive. However, if you are interested in the aesthetics of your farm, controlling slime molds in the long term can be hard as its spores are wind-borne and may survive in dry conditions due to their resistance.
As a result, they can remain resistant and viable for long durations only to thrive when the conditions are conducive and the weather is warm and moist.
On the other hand, if given time, the dog vomit fungus will dry up on its own without the need for any interventions. To help get rid of it, you can try the following control measures for short-term reprieve.
If you observe an outbreak of dog vomit fungus, controlling it involves breaking it up so it can dry. This can be achieved through various means.
- If you find it growing in your mulch or leaf litter, you could rake it up and throw it away. Do not be tempted to through it in your compost.
- Where it is on tree stumps or lumber, use a shovel to scrape it off.
- Problematic dog vomit fungus found on the lawn can be raked off and thrown away as well.
To prevent dog vomit fungus from forming, raking mulch after a few days in seasons when humidity is high may help. Also, avoid spraying the slime with water as a method of removal as this adds moisture which is favorable for its growth.
In case despite various interventions the slime mold continues to be a nuisance, changing from wood-based mulches around your house to gravel may offer a reprieve. This kind of intervention is, however, rarely necessary.
Is Dog Vomit Fungus Edible?
According to nature.mdc.mo.gov, dog vomit fungus is not edible. The slime mold is, however not known to cause any sickness. However, persons with allergies and respiratory conditions such as asthma may find the spores irritating.
Is Slime Mold Poisonous?
As discussed above, dog vomit slime most is neither harmful to your plants nor animals. Although it is not edible, it is not known to cause any harm.
- Nature.mdc.mo.gov: Dog Vomit Slime Mold
- Green-talk.com: Dog Vomit Slime Mold on my Mulch! Here’s How to Prevent or Reduce it
- Wikipedia.org: Fuliga Septica