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Insects and mold dominate questions

It's a mold

Cooperative Extension Slime mold, also known as dog vomit mold, on mulch.

Cooperative Extension Slime mold, also known as dog vomit mold, on mulch.

By Danelle Cutting

Rowan Cooperative Extension

For some reason, I received tons of calls about insects and molds this week. I am going to help answer a few of those questions.

Question: What is all over my mulch? Is it toxic, and will it kill my plants?

Answer: This is slime mold or what’s called, Dog Vomit Mold. It will not cause harm to your plants. It is usually seen during the spring and attracted to moist and warm conditions. It breaks down organic material, so it is most often seen on mulch. It can come in a variety of colors. The photo submitted was yellow and brown. For more information, visit this publication: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/plant_problems/hgic2354.html

Question: What is this insect? I found it my garage, and it is huge.

Answer: This is a cicada. They can make some loud noises that irritate homeowners. However, some people consider them a delicacy and will even forage for them. There are different broods of cicadas, and many take years to develop. They usually have cycles, some lasting as long as 17 years. To simplify their lifecycle, the females will lay eggs in twigs and branches and split open the area with their ovipositor. Once the eggs have hatched, they drop and burrow into the soil to continue their life cycle.

Question: Is this praying mantis OK? Are they supposed to get this large? Could this insect hurt my grandchildren?

Answer: This praying mantis is fine. After further investigation, the client was mainly concerned with how large the mantis was, and that is completely normal. Praying mantis can get fairly large and be frightening to people not familiar with them. They are beneficial insects but general feeders, so they do not distinguish the good guys from the bad. I encourage you to leave the mantis alone and actively view the insects from afar, instead of handling them directly.

If you have questions concerning your garden, insects, or molds, call your local agent, Danelle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.

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