Yikes: Dog-vomit fungus on my worm box

The delightfully named “dog vomit fungus”,  aka dog vomit slime mold (Fuligo septica)

Talk about going from the sublime to the real-ick-ulous on the Toronto Gardens blog! Look what bloomed – overnight – on my worm condo. When I say “overnight,” I mean that the slimy yellow barflike substance frothed up over the lid and lip in a matter of hours. Only after seeing this gloppy stage of the fruiting body did I connect the yellow, weblike structures I’d noticed for the past few days, spreading across the top layer of paper bedding – looking for somewhere to do exactly this.

I’ve seen dog vomit fungus (Fuligo septica) as a kind of wonderful curiosity outdoors (here’s a tell-all article on dog vomit fungus from the Chicago Tribune). It can appear on mulch, for example, and I’ve seen it on the forest floor. But in my worm box? Geez.

Naturally, that sent me scurrying to the web to seek advice, given most concisely here at redwormcomposting.com – a great info resource for vermicomposting.

The short version: You can’t prevent this fungus. Its spores are floating around everywhere, looking for their dream home. However, you can make your worm box less hospitable by avoiding one or all of these conditions:

  • overfeeding, as I had probably done – in which case, stop feeding your worms for a while
  • too much moisture – if so, remove the lid to allow evaporation, or add a little dry bedding (keeping in mind that, to wormy eyes, bedding is food, too)
  • too much acidityground-up eggshells help keep your worm box sweet by neutralizing acidity as they add calcium

Worm boxes and houseplants seem to have something in common. You can
cause problems by giving them too much love. Houseplants die most often
from over-watering; worm boxes thrive best on a little neglect. It was only after I’d given mine too much attention (or food) that my problem occurred.

Dog vomit fungus is said to be harmless to your worms and, unless you let it complete the fruiting process and release its spores, it’s likely harmless to you, too. If it appears in your worm box, the advice I’ve found is to wipe it up/off and wrap it up in a damp paper towel, then bury it deep in your worm box. So that’s what I did. I am also letting the box air out a little. So. We shall wait and see.


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