Dog vomit fungus and gnat larvae disgusting, not dangerous

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 21, 2013

SALISBURY — High humidity from afternoon showers can create the perfect environment for insects and many disease problems. Home gardeners are experiencing problems in both landscape and vegetable gardens. Below are a few problems gleaned from home gardeners’ inquiries.
Question: I have a strange yellow fungus-like growth spreading all over the mulch I have just put down around my house. Will the fungus spread to my shrubs and kill them?
Answer: No, this is a superficial fungus (dog vomit fungus) that occurs in humid weather in the early summer and does not kill shrubs or grass. Take a rake and spread out the mulch. When the dry weather returns, the mulch will dry out and it will disappear.
Question: My hostas are blooming now and I heard one of my friends say that they needed to be cut back. I really like the flowers. Do they need to be removed?
Answer: You can leave your hosta flowers and enjoy them or remove them. Removing the blooms reduces nutrients to the blooms and allows younger hostas the opportunity to become well established.
Question: I was walking in the yard earlier last week and found what I thought was a baby snake. When I took a closer look, I discovered very small, transparent worms, hundreds, about a quarter of an inch long, massed together moving like a snake along the grass. What are these worms?
Answer: What you have are fungus gnat larvae. Adult fungus gnats are tiny, dark insects that resemble mosquitoes but are much smaller, about 1/8 inch long. Fungus gnats tend to remain near potted plants and can frequently be found walking on the surface of the soil. As the weather dries, so do the larvae. These are more of a problem in greenhouses and in homes around potted plants. Go to the website: for more detailed information.
Question: When I was traveling to the beach last weekend, I noticed quite a few unusual, tall, flowering plants along the roadsides. The leaves were very large, a light green plant with tall, yellow flower spikes. What are these plants?
Answer: The plant you noticed is most likely mullein. It is usually found in open areas where the ground has been disturbed, such as fields, roadsides, gardens and forest openings. The plant will not grow in shady locations, but it can survive on very little water. Its flower spikes can reach up to 10 feet tall. More information about mullein can be found at

Darrell Blackwelder is an agricultural agent in charge of horticulture with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Call 704-216-8970.