Have you ever noticed tiny black dots on the bottom of your siding and wondered what they were? If so, your home might be affected by artillery fungus. Read on to learn exactly what it is, how to get rid of it, and how to help prevent it from reappearing.
Artillery Fungus and its Many Names
The dark spots you see on your siding are a wood-decaying fungus known as artillery fungus. You can find it in dead trees, rotting wood, and mulch. It goes by many names, also known as shotgun fungus, artillery mold, or its scientific name, Sphaerobolus stellatus. It is usually found in non-composted mulch because it doesn’t go through a burning process that normally neutralizes fungus.
Connected to the fruiting bodies are spore masses that are dark brown at their tips. The spore masses in nature launch out of the fruiting bodies toward the sun. Around your home, however, the fungus perceives your bright-colored siding as sunlight. The spores subsequently shoot out toward the bottom of the house and latch onto your siding.
The tiny black dots resemble a shotgun spread pattern, hence the colloquialism, “artillery fungus”. Once it lands on the siding of a home and sits, it goes into a dormant phase. The sticky, almost super-glue-like spores become nearly impossible to completely remove if left on a home for too long.
How to Get Rid of Shotgun Mold
The removal process puts the siding of a home at risk for significant damage and possibly even replacement. Power washing is not the answer here. While the presence of artillery fungus is usually a sign that a home needs power washed for other reasons such as algae and mold prevention, treating a home specifically for artillery fungus requires the use of a steel cloth or another abrasive tool.
Beware of any pressure washing company or cleanser that claims to be able to remove artillery mold without an abrasive tool. The amount of water pressure required to remove artillery fungus could possibly void the warranty on your siding. Mold will grow underneath the panels when water pushes in.
You should be extremely cautious when using an abrasive solution on the siding to your home. It is always best to start light and work your way up to stronger solutions to minimize the risk of damage. After removal, artillery mold could leave behind a brown residue that will become embedded in the siding if left for too long. The good news is that artillery mold is purely cosmetic. It poses no health threat to homeowners, pets, or wildlife, as it belongs to the same class of fungi as the mushrooms we eat.
Suggestions to Prevent Artillery Fungus
The best way to prevent artillery mold is to keep it away from your home in the first place. Avoid purchasing dark-colored, non-organic, and non-composted mulch. Consider switching to a light-colored composted mulch that has gone through a baking process to neutralize the fungus.
You will also want to walk around your home periodically to ensure that your siding is free from not only artillery fungus but also dirt, algae, mold, and mildew. We recommend scheduling a professional power wash every spring to prevent a buildup of contaminants that can eventually damage your siding.
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