Dog Vomit Slime Mold
Dog vomit slime mold is not: from or caused by a dog, actual vomit, slimy, or a fungus!
Dog vomit slime mold is not a true fungi but, instead, a single-cell fungus-like organism that combines with other single-cell fungus-like organisms of the same species to form a plasmodium. The plasmodium slowly expands through and across the mulch as it consumes bacteria, fungi, and decaying organic matter. As the environment gets drier and/or hotter, the plasmodium transforms into a brownish mass called an aethalia (the spore-producing stage). Spores are spread by water and wind.
In addition to being unsightly, there is an “ick factor” in the case of dog vomit slime mold. However, slime molds are not known to be dangerous to humans or animals, cause little to no damage in the landscape, and assist in natural decay processes. Dog vomit slime mold performs essential biological duties such as breaking down organic material before returning that material to the soil and accumulating heavy metals before turning them into inactive forms.
Dog vomit slime mold does not require any management actions. If the sight of the slime mold is offensive, it and the mulch it is growing in can be collected and disposed of, or the slime mold can be sprayed with a strong stream of water to disperse. Neither of these methods guarantees the slime mold will not return. Keep in mind that slime molds perform necessary, natural biological duties and are often considered beneficial entities. Slime molds are highly sensitive to their environment and typically disappear on their own within a few days in dry conditions.
See Clemson’s Home and Garden Information Center’s HGIC 2354, Spanish Moss, Lichens & Slime Molds for more information.