As you prepare for the exterior spring cleaning around your home, have you noticed little black specks all over your vinyl siding? Many homeowners see these black specks and assume that they are the feces of some insect, but the truth is, these specks are tiny mold spores being shot out of artillery fungus that is growing in the mulch around your home.

What is artillery fungus?

Artillery fungus, also referred to as cannon or shotgun fungus, is wood-decay fungus that thrives in landscape mulch that is moist. After your mulch ages, the fungus begins to grow. When the sun heats the mulch, the fungus explodes and sends spores flying through the air causing the black specks that you see on your siding.

Does artillery fungus cause permanent damage?

These little spores can be difficult to remove and if you don't act quickly, they could cause the siding to become discolored in the spots where the spores have penetrated the siding. So, yes, it is damaging in the sense that it will cause the siding to have discolored spots all over it, but it will not cause damage that makes the siding less protective for your home.

Does the artillery fungus do this to all homes?

Lighter colored siding seems to be impacted more than homes with darker siding. This is likely due to the heat that is being reflected off of the light colored vinyl siding. Dark siding absorbs the heat, rather than reflect it.

How do you prevent artillery fungus?

The easiest way is to eliminate the mulch around your home. If you insist on having mulch, use mulch that is made of bark rather than woodchips. Remove the old mulch and replace it each year or use the rubber mulch in place of it. Rubber mulch may cost a little more, but you won't have the same moisture, insect and fungus problems associated with natural wood mulch.

How do you get the artillery fungus off of the siding?

Removing the artillery fungus is a difficult task. Pressure washing may help, but usually, you will need to manually scrape each spore off of the surface using steel wool. Some people have had success using anti-fungal cleaners, but the stains usually remain no matter what method of removal you use. The only way to get the like-new look from before those spores exploded is to have the siding on your home replaced and eliminating the mulch to prevent it from happening again.

Talk with your vinyl siding experts, such as Leger Siding, about repairs and replacement of your siding and learn more about preventing these issues again in the future.