Picture this: As you work through your lawn, you notice a little patch of grayish growth. When you inspect it closely, you notice it resembles ash that has been sprinkled on the grass blades. When you touch it, a small cloud of dust rises off the blades. You immediately go to your phone and call your lawn service or local nursery because you are concerned that this problem will spread. On your way to the phone, you notice something weird on the mulch that is spread across your landscape beds. You may ask yourself the following questions:
You stop for a closer look and are appalled at what you see. It looks as if someone got physically sick and vomited in your flowerbed. You think, "How disgusting" — Yes it is! But, is there anything to be worried about — No there is not! Both of these "conditions" are caused by primitive fungi known as Slime Molds.
Slime Molds are saprophytes, or organisms that obtain their food from dead or decaying organic matter. They will creep along the soil surface in search of food by pulling themselves along with finger-like projections. During periods of warm, rainy weather, Slime Molds will creep up on grass plants, on the lower branches of ornamental plants, or across landscape beds covered with mulch when they are ready to reproduce. From these locations, they will release millions of tiny spores. Spores are like tiny seeds that will help ensure many more generations of Slime Molds. The only purpose for creeping up on the plants or mulch is to give the spores the best advantage for distribution over a large area.
Since Slime Molds are not lawn disease that damage plants, but are actually beneficial to the ecosystem of your landscape, control is not necessary. If you find the dried patches in the lawn, help Mother Nature by sweeping the spores into the wind. The slimy patches in the mulch will dry and can be raked under. They may be unsightly, but should not cause any concern in terms of your yard care. They are just part of the wonderful world of nature.
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