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How to Manage Pests

The UC Guide to Healthy Lawns

Nuisance fungi

Mushrooms in sod

Dog vomit fungus

Inky caps
Photo by R. Michael Davis

Photo by R. Michael Davis

Photo by R. Michael Davis

Bird's nest fungus

Click on images to enlarge.


All turfgrass species


Various types of mushrooms or other reproductive structures can appear in the lawn. Most do not damage grass but can be an indicator of overirrigation or excess thatch. Fairy ring mushrooms are associated with damage to turfgrass.

Mushrooms in new sod: Mushrooms, such as Panaeolus foenisecii, often appear in sod soon after it is laid. Their growth is stimulated by the light frequent watering new lawns require. They will disappear when irrigation frequency is reduced.

Dog vomit fungus and other slime molds: Slime molds form a gooey mass that may look like vomit on the lawn surface.

Inky caps: The caps of these mushrooms decompose into dark liquid resembling ink.

Stinkhorns: Stinkhorns resemble a giant finger. The tip of the stalk is covered with spores in a smelly, gooey slime that attracts flies and other insects.

Puffballs: Puffballs are usually an inch or less in size and creamy white when young. When mature, the puffball releases thousands of dark-colored spores.

Bird’s nests: Bird’s nest fungi produce fruiting bodies that resemble tiny nests with eggs. These egg-like structures contain spores.

Conditions favoring disease

Mushrooms found in lawns often develop from buried scraps of wood, dead tree roots, or other organic matter. Fungi generally survive in the soil for years and produce mushrooms or other fruiting structures only when conditions are favorable, such as after periods of prolonged wet weather. Overirrigation and poor soil drainage can also contribute to the development of mushrooms.

Prevention and management

Nuisance fungi are mostly beneficial because they decompose organic matter in the soil, making nutrients available to other plants. The mushrooms they produce are generally harmless to grasses but are unsightly and often poisonous. Remove mushrooms growing from buried wood or roots by picking them as they appear. Remove excess thatch and aerate the soil to improve water penetration. Follow recommended fertilizer and irrigation rates for your turf species.

For more information on mushrooms in lawns, refer to:
Pest Notes: Mushrooms and Other Nuisance Fungi in Lawns

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