Let’s talk about slime mold. What a fun topic!
Specifically, let’s talk about dog vomit slime mold, species Fuligo septica, also known more broadly as yellow slime mold.
What is Dog Vomit Slime Mold?
Don’t worry too much, as the mold that we’re talking about today doesn’t actually come from Rover’s regurgitated kibbel chunks–it just resembles it. Sorry if that’s a bit too graphic for you. Yellow slime mold is a unique type of slime mold that is generally referred to as a fungus, although it behaves quite differently.
So differently in fact, that it can actually solve a maze–yes, you read that right! This mold is an amazing maze strategist! Unlike most molds which spore and grow on a food source (like that bread that you bought last week but forgot was in the pantry), slime molds possess the rather unique ability of locomotion. When the slime mold is seeking out a food source, it can actually relocate to the site of a tasty treat. I bet you can already imagine the fun implications of this: place a bit of yellow slime mold in a maze contraption, insert a food source (like an enticing decaying leaf–yum!) at the end of the maze, and watch as the fun ensues! If you’re lucky enough to find some yellow slime mold in or around your house, we highly recommend this activity. It’s quite entertaining, especially for children.
Wow, who knew mold could be so fun? (I told you so!)
Let’s get serious for a moment though. What is yellow slime mold really? Is it okay to be touching it with our hands in the first place? Where exactly does this stuff come from and is it dangerous for us to be exposed to?
A slime mold is quite the interesting specimen, or rather many specimens. The slime mold is an aggregation of many unicellular organisms that are able to come together and function as one, multicellular organism. It’s much like the way our bodies function by trillions of our cells working together–but imagine if each cell could break apart from the others and just do it’s own thing if it wanted to.
Yellow slime mold is, as one could expect, yellow in color. It is a bit foamy and gelatinous in appearance, which can cause alarm when noticing it for the first time. Slime molds are usually found in moist areas–this includes garden beds, rotting bark, wood mulch, and the like. When it grows outside, it does not pose any risk to your yard or garden if that is a concern of yours.
Slime mold growth can also occur indoors under similar conditions (remember that it thrives off of heat, shade, and humidity). In the summer or in tropical climates, you might find the slime mold lurking in dim or damp corners, on pantry shelves, or growing on your beloved house plants. And while we know that they won’t cause any harm to your plant–what about you? Do they pose any risk to you? Your loved ones? Rover?
Is Yellow Slime Mold Dangerous?
We all know about the dreaded black mold–every homeowner fears peeling back a shelf only to reveal a vile infestation that requires the attention of expensive professionals. Black mold is toxic. When the spores of the mold are inhaled over time, they can cause serious ongoing respiratory issues like coughing, sneezing, irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat among other symptoms if the infestation is not taken care of. Perhaps the biggest issue with black mold is that you may have been living with it for years and not even realized it, due to its elusive tendency to hide itself out of sight–behind shelves, other furniture, and inbetween window panes.
But can yellow slime mold pose a similar threat as black mold? Thankfully not. It appears to be relatively harmless to humans. That doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily nice to look at, and we would definitely recommend moving it (and the decomposing material it’s feeding off) when found, but there’s no need to fear for your safety, your children, or your beloved pets.
If mold is an ongoing concern of yours, we recommend having an inspection. While yellow slime molds appear to pose no threat to human or pet health, we can’t be certain–so it’s always good to take practical precautions. Molds of different varieties can be especially harmful to those who suffer from allergies or asthma.
So just remember: no need to fear when slime mold is near! We actually find this possible household invader to be more fascinating than terrifying–albeit a tad disgusting. What do you think?