Thanks to the J-Krew of the Scrufdog site for the information.
posted on 9/26/2003 at 03:13 PM
Artillery (Shotgun) Fungi
by Bret A. Lambdin, Lambdin's Pressure Washing, Ashland, OH
If you live in moisture-rich areas of the Northeast, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan, it's just a matter of time until you receive calls from homeowners concerned about mysterious black specks that have appeared on their siding. Many homeowners will refer to it as "fly dung" or "asphalt." Countless tiny black, round specs, approximately 1/10 of an inch in diameter, have suddenly appeared on their siding, windows and even cars. What they are talking about is an ever-expanding problem that homeowners are encountering.
The culprit is Sphaerobolus, a common type of fungi that thrives on the decomposition of landscape mulches. Sphaerobolus fungi, more commonly known as Artillery Fungi, grow commonly in sunny, moist areas. For growth and survival, these fungi require the presence of an organic, decaying matter. The most perfect matter for its growth is bark mulch or "double-shredded" bark mulch.
These fungi have a very fast life cycle and are most often found during the spring and fall seasons when temperatures are between 50 and 68°F. During growth, the bodies of the fungi will point themselves toward strong light sources, such as buildings with light colored siding, light colored cars and windows that reflect the sun's light. The bodies open upon maturity, exposing the mass of spores growing within. Just five hours later, the fungi reach maturity and eject the spores with an estimated 1/10,000 horsepower of force. This force is sufficient to expel the spores as far as 20-feet upward. The spores stick to any surface that they come in contact with at this time and are adhered as if with "super-glue."
The spores are coated with a sticky substance designed to withstand animal digestive systems. This creates a unique situation when trying to remove the spores from a homeowner's siding, since traditional chemicals are not able to break the co-efficiency of the spores from the siding.
There are currently several chemists working on products to easily and safely remove these spores from siding and vehicles. I believe that the most significant advancements have been made are through Chempure Products Corp. in Bolivar, OH. For the last two years, they have witnessed promising results in the testing and development of such products.
Until a product becomes available, my company has been using a very careful combination of high water temperatures and a high volume of water at approximately 2,500 psi with a 40-degree tip. With this combination, it is possible to completely remove the spores from siding, if the spores have not been adhered to the siding for longer than three weeks. After that time, the amount of spores that can be removed decreases dramatically in proportion to the time it has been adhered to the siding.
Customer education is the key to preventing the growth of artillery fungi. In the past, we have published articles in newspapers and distributed pamphlets to our customers to help homeowners keep these spores from damaging the appearance of their homes and depreciating their value.
The best way to prevent artillery fungi from becoming a problem is to completely remove all bark and hardwood mulch from around the home. This includes removing the topsoil from the mulch bed, as the spores can still grow in the soil, and replacing it with non-organic matter, such as decorative stone. If this is not an option for homeowners, they should consider using mulch from rot resistant woods, such as cedar, redwood or cypress. This will not guarantee the fungi will stop growing, but it will give the fungi less decomposed organic matter to feed from.
If these rot resistant woods cannot be placed around the home, homeowner should at least try to completely remove all mulch each year and replace with fresh mulch. Wood chips are an even better alternative for reducing the likelihood of Artillery Fungi problems when compared to the risks of using mulch. Whenever landscaping mulch or wood chips are used around the home, the mulch bed should be completely covered with thick black plastic to help reduce the decomposition of the mulch. This will help retard the growth of Artillery Fungi.
Thanks again to the Scrufdog site.