Artillery fungus: Keep your home from becoming a target

By Andrew Freiden - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -- Every year around this time, some houses get attacked by mysterious black dots.  It's the dreaded artillery fungus, and it's back.

When mysterious black dots started showing up on Charles Pfieffer's house he knew had a big problem.

"Where I park on that side of the car, it's all down the side of that car as well," Pfieffer said.

Little did he know he had a problem that wasn't going away.  Those black dots are from artillery fungus.  The 'artillery' part of the name is because the fungus shoots its spores up to 20 feet high!  And it most often aims at light colors.

"You can see it all the way up to the soffit, its shot and gotten up on the second floor of the house as well," he said.

And those little black dots stick there -- like super glue.  The best defense is to try to prevent the fungus from getting there in the first place.

"It can come in on mulch, it can get blown in, there are different ways for it to arrive, but people don't like it however it gets there," extension agent Susan Edwards.

She says you can lower your chances of getting hit.  Choose mulch made of large bark nuggets.  Or try pine mulch.  And you should add mulch every year.

"As long as you are trop dressing with one or two new inches that will drastically cut down on the incidences of the artillery fungus," Edwards said.

But if you have mulch near your house, there's just no way to ensure you won't get hit.  And when you try to scrape or powerwash it off, you could damage your siding -- and you're just knocking those spores down into the soil, where it gives birth to more fungus.

So if you can stand the look, just leave it -- Susan says it will eventually fall off.

"Good news is, it's not going to destroy your house, won't start decaying your siding or injuring your car," she said.

That's little consolation to people like Charles Pfeiffer -- he's willing to put in a lot of elbow grease.

"Here's one of the clean squares, right there, we finally were able to get it off," he said.

Just a small dent in a problem that's not going away.

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