Are you noticing small black spots on your home, car, patio furniture, or anything else in close proximity to your mulch beds? If so, you may have Artillery Fungus nearby.
What is Artillery Fungus?
Those unsightly black spots that creep up on your siding or splatter against your car may not be mud. These marks could be Sphaerobolus, a common fungus that attaches itself firmly to bright surfaces. The blemishes have been compared to specks on tar. This fungus’s ability to adhere itself to any number of surfaces is legendary; the spots can be difficult if not impossible to remove without damaging the original surface.
This unfavorable fungus is most often found in bark and hardwood mulch; which just so happens to be many builders’ ideal choice. Your best bet to avoid this issue is to spend the extra dollar to get a higher quality mulch, such as cedar or pine bark. Not only will this last you longer, but it will also save you money and hassle down the road.
You may notice that the north side of your home seems to get the worst of this treatment; the artillery fungus purposefully shoots the spores towards reflective surfaces. Not to mention, the spores are the most obvious when attached to a light-colored surface, such as white siding on a house. While unsightly, the fungus is not harmful in any way. It does no real damage to surfaces and is not a toxic mold.
Getting Rid of Artillery Fungus
As far as getting rid of the spores on your siding – that’s not a fun job. The most important part is to get them quick, as they are covered in a sticky substance that will stay on the siding for good if not taken care of in a timely fashion.
Vinyl siding that still has an oily residue on it can be power-washed within the first week. Scraping the spores off one by one with a plastic scraper or steel wool is tedious but effective. After removing the top layer, there will still be a stain left; this can be taken care of with an ink eraser or bleach. Simple Green all-purpose cleaner, toothpaste, and alcohol-based mouthwash have been known to work with various rates of success. These treatments can be tried first before attacking the spores with a scraper. For removing spores off of cars you will need to apply care and gentle products like oil, vinegar, car wax, and tree sap remover; these options have worked for people in the past.
After treating the existing marks, it is important to treat the source of the problem to avoid any further stress. It is recommended that the existing mulch be raked to expose the spores to sunlight and dry out the material. After the spores have dried out, at least three inches of new mulch should be added on top to suffocate the remaining spores.