Imagine this: It's the first hot sunny day after a damp spring. You step outside to admire your new vinyl siding and realize that the wall is covered in a spray of tiny black dots. Is it vandalism? Some kind of insect?
No, it's worse than that. Your house has been targeted by artillery fungus.
The Fungal Gunslinger
The culprit is something called Sphaerobolus stellatus, also known as artillery fungus, cannon fungus, or shotgun fungus. It lives on damp wood, including mulch, and sprays sticky spore packets onto nearby surfaces.
Here's how it works. The fungus forms small fruiting bodies during damp weather when the temperature is in the 70s to low 80s. During this time it grows a cannonball-shaped spore packet. This is the ammunition. The gunpowder is moisture.
When the temperature gets up into the 90s, the moisture pressure inside the fungus builds until the spore packet is ejected. Spores can shoot up to 20 feet away.
The fungus fires its spores toward any light source. This includes reflected light, so any house, car, or window in direct sunlight could end up covered in spots.
The glue-like substance that covers the ball of spores makes it very difficult to remove. Scrubbing or power washing before the spores have time to set may help. It may be possible to physically scrape the spots off, but this can still leave a stain.
The best way to protect your siding is to keep the fungus out of your yard. Artillery fungus grows on decaying wood. Keep the area near your house free of old firewood or dead trees. Replace wood mulch every four years if possible. Covering mulch with a layer of pine needles may also help.
To protect your new siding, make life difficult for artillery fungus. Here are some easy ways to block the invader.
- Use a wood mulch containing at least 85% bark. This protects your flower beds without giving the fungus a place to live.
- Use synthetic mulch near structures and parking areas.
- Replace mulch with stone or gravel.
- Make use of ground cover plants. Dense planting will stop the fungus while still preserving your landscape design.
- Use only composted wood mulch. Composting kills the fungus and its spores. This won't keep spores from colonizing the material in years to come, so the mulch will still need to be replaced periodically.
A little planning can protect your home from attacks from below. Now all you have to worry about are baseballs and birds. Talk to a professional like First Choice Construction for more information.