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Hall Extension: Science fiction or slime mold?
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The Extension office is an interesting place to work. One of the great things about it, is the people we get to meet and help.

Most of the time, we get fairly typical questions; what is this weed, how much do I fertilize my garden, what are the best trees to plant?

But every once in a while, we get questions that border along the lines of science fiction.

Most of the time when people call the office, they are typically in good spirits and calm, but when strange science fiction happens in the yard, their nerves usually show through the telephone.

What always takes me back a little and makes me think, "what in the world?" are the calls about slime molds in the yard or in the mulch.

Slime molds are primitive, fungus-like organisms that are classified as myxomycetes in the Kingdom Protoctista.

Depending on the type of slime mold, they may be white, yellow, blue-gray, black, brown or pink.

They usually appear after a strong rain, but they are most always there in the environment. When you do see them, they will appear as slimy blobs that seem to materialize overnight.

When the blobs appear, the slime mold is getting ready to reproduce in the form of spores. They like to feed on decaying organic material — thus the mulch.

One of the more interesting slime molds is one that my kids think has the best name, Dog Vomit slime molds. The Dog Vomit slime mold is one that appears on wood mulch, and yes, it does look like your neighbor's cute canine left you a present while you were asleep.

When it is fresh — if you can call a slime mold fresh — it has a yellowish color, but turns to a white color when it begins to dry out. When it completely dries, it can be easily broken open, releasing brown powdery spores in to the air.

Although slime molds like Dog Vomit are unsightly and sometimes disturbing to see, they are harmless to you and your plants.

There are no control measures for them and you do not need to spray with chemicals. If you want, you can rake or wash them away with water to help get rid of them quicker, but over time, they will disappear.

So after a good rain watch your step for Dog Vomit, and depending on your kids, either amaze or gross them out with this wondrous feat of Mother Nature.

Michael Wheeler is county extension coordinator for the UGA Cooperative Extension in Hall County. You can contact him at 770-535-8293 at the Hall County Extension Office. His column appears weekly and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

 

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