Mucilago Crustacea

Mucilago crustacea, Dog Sick Slime Mold, Vancouver Island, BC
Mucilago crustacea, Dog Sick Slime Mold, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

Mucilago crustacea is a form of slime mold, in the monotypic genus Mucilago, in the family Didymiidae. Due to its visual resemblance to canine vomit, its common name is dog sick slime mold. The fruiting body can be yellowish at first but turns to white, and then eventually blackening.

White Slime molds are members of the Kingdom Protista, so they are not classed as animals, plants, or fungi. They are primitive single-celled organisms that reproduce by spores. They are capable of limited movement, and they feed on bacteria in the ground, they are beneficial for plants, they consume harmful bacteria and pathogens.

Mucilago crustacea, Dog Sick Slime Mold, Vancouver Island, BC
Mucilago crustacea, Dog Sick Slime Mold, Vancouver Island, BC, photo by Bud Logan

White slime molds spend most of their life’s in the soil as single-celled organisms in the soil. Then, when conditions are right, they clump together and move above ground to form a larger organism called a plasmodium, which varies in appearance amongst the various species. Most species of slime mold produce very small plasmodia measuring just a few mm across. Mucilago Crustacea pictured above is one of the larger species.

A similar, but bright yellow species that is known as ‘Scrambled egg slime mold’ is found more in wooded habitats. After a few days, the plasmodium becomes dry and flaky and breaks up to release black spores which germinate in the soil to produce the next generation of slime molds.

All slime molds are fascinating to observe, keep an eye out as you hike around the island’s forests and you might just spot one, they are pretty cool.

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