Ugly Goo on the Lawn

May be the “Return of the Blob”

 

    Star-Tip 1020

Gardening Tips for successful and beautiful Landscapes and Gardens

 

The creature now appearing on damp lawns and mulch layers across the Valley may look like a Hollywood Horror Movie star. The name of the movie is “The Blob

Returns.”

 

Ranging from a few inches to more than a foot wide, this creature isn’t a fungus. It’s not a plant, either. It isn’t an animal or even a bacteria or virus. Currently it is known as slime mold. It belongs to biology’s “catch-all” category for primitive organisms: the Kingdom Protista. That kingdom also includes the algae that look like plants (but aren’t) and the microscopic protozoa that act like animals (but aren’t).

 

Slime mold is a primitive organism that has properties of both an amoeba and a fungus. The slime mold produces spores that are capable of amoeba-like movement. The spores feed on fungi, bacteria, other micro-organisms, and decaying organic mater.

 

 

Slime molds actually are microscopic, single-celled organisms. But, they can “swarm” together to form a mass. This is one of those situations in which you can call the single cell or a bunch of the cells a slime mold. When a mass becomes large enough for humans to see, it may look like a blob, goo, foam or spilled jelly. It may be bright orange, red, yellow, brown, black, blue, white or a mixture of colors. (These “molds” look slimy only when damp.)

 

A mass can only be a problem for lawns. And it’s a problem there only if it becomes large enough to block a number of turf plants from the sunlight they need to make food. Most of the time, people worry about whether slime molds are a symptom of some kind of terrible disease or infestation; In fact, they’re rarely a problem.

 

The slime molds that show up on mulch often attract more attention. They not only have bright colors but also can look really disgusting. But that’s probably why the common names for some slime molds are so descriptive – scrambled egg, yellow blob, pet breakfast….

 

Slime molds used to be thought of as a fungus, but further study indicated they did not belong to that family. They can look sort of a like a fungus. They also ‘fruit’ and produce spores. Even so, their current classification makes more sense. If nothing else, it accounts for the fact that slime molds can move.

 

Most people never see it move though, because slime molds are slower than a snail. Their racing speed is only about a twenty-fifth of an inch per hour.

 

RETURN OF THE BLOB!

 

 

In blob form, slime molds also can navigate and avoid obstacles. They seem to sense when food is nearby and head straight for it. What they eat, however, are only those things that humans would encourage them to “process,”  Slime molds’ favorite meals are decaying vegetation, bacteria, fungi and other slime molds.

That, combined with their need for moisture, is why slime molds most often show up in forests. There, if a blob gets cut apart, the pieces will simply move back together again.

 

Most of the time, our weather isn’t wet enough, If you wait until they dry out, they’ll turn ash-gray and then break up easily when touched. If you discover slim mold on your lawn, the chances are good that you are over-watering or watering at night.

 

For those who can’t wait, current horticulture recommends using a broom or heavy spray of water to dislodge the “mold“ from lawns.

If you’ve got slime mold in your flower beds, just shovel it up and throw it away. Then stir up the mulch – aerate it, so it will dry out faster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Copy Provided courtesy of Star Nursery
www.StarNursery.com

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