You may have heard that death cap mushrooms are responsible for more deaths than any other mushroom. Chances are, if you find them growing in your yard, you’ll want to get rid of them as soon as possible. If you’re wondering how to get rid of death cap mushrooms, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss how to safely handle death caps as well as some methods you could use to remove them from your yard.
What You'll Learn Today
Can You Touch a Death Cap Mushroom?
Death cap mushrooms, as the name suggests, are highly toxic; the good news is, they are generally harmless to touch.
Death cap toxins, also known as amatoxins, have to be digested to cause any harm in the body. The toxins cannot be absorbed through the skin.
That said, it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly after handling death caps. The toxins can remain on your skin and, if you put your fingers in your mouth before washing them, you may accidentally ingest enough of the toxins to make you extremely sick.
Check out the following video to learn more about death caps and why you absolutely don’t want to eat them.
If you’re going to be handling a lot of death caps, or if you want to take extra precautions, it might be a good idea to wear disposable gloves.
What Happens if You Touch a Death Cap Mushroom?
Nothing happens when you touch a death cap; they do not generally cause rashes or allergic reactions. The toxins found in these deadly mushrooms are inside their flesh, so you would have to ingest them to experience any of their harmful effects.
Again though, if you don’t clean up properly after touching death caps, some of the toxins may remain on your skin and you may accidentally ingest them later. This is especially true if the mushrooms break apart and your skin touches their exposed insides.
How to Destroy Death Cap Mushrooms?
According to The Atlantic, death cap mushrooms are most frequently found not deep in forests or wooded areas, but in populated neighborhoods and urban areas. With that in mind, there’s a reasonable chance that you already have some growing in your yard.
Considering their toxic effects, you probably don’t want death caps growing in your yard, especially if you have pets or young children. Even if you know to avoid the mushrooms, kids and pets are often curious and may accidentally poison themselves.
So, if you’ve got death caps growing in your yard, what can you do about them? Is there anything you can do to get rid of them and keep them from growing back?
Unfortunately, these mushrooms are hardy and invasive. It is possible to get rid of them, but it’s going to take quite a bit of time and effort on your part.
Let’s take a look at some things you can do:
Change Yard Conditions
In general, mushrooms prefer shady, moist ground conditions. Death caps are no different, and if the shade in your yard is produced by trees, the mushrooms are even more likely to thrive.
Death caps grow under trees and near tree roots. If you see a lot of them growing near one particular tree, the best way to get rid of them permanently may be to get rid of that tree.
Removing trees in general will allow your lawn to get more sunshine. But removing trees alone may leave their roots intact, which will still provide a good environment for death caps to grow.
If you can, remove the trees and have their stumps and roots grinded down. This will not only allow more sunshine to reach the ground, but will destroy the symbiotic relationship the mushrooms have with the trees.
Of course, not everyone can afford to have trees removed down to the roots, and not everyone wants to lose the trees in their yard. One way to control the death caps without fully eradicating them is to simply keep them mowed down.
Use the lowest blade setting on your mower, and mow over the area every time you see a few death caps starting to appear. This will prevent the mushrooms from being able to produce spores, thus limiting their ability to spread.
Keeping the mushrooms mowed down will also limit the chances that kids and pets will come in contact with them. Just make sure to rake up and dispose of the mushroom pieces, and keep kids and pets away from freshly mowed areas for a couple of days.
Contrary to popular belief, adding fertilizer to your yard will not reduce the chance of having mushrooms pop up. Most fertilizers actually make the soil more conducive to mushroom growth.
To discourage mushrooms from growing in your soil, allow it to dry out as much as possible and skip the fertilizers and composts. Slightly dry patches of soil that receive full sunlight are the most likely to deter mushrooms from growing.
Make a Vinegar Fungicide
White vinegar is sometimes used as a natural fungicide to get rid of mushrooms in the yard. While it’s unclear whether this will effectively kill death caps, vinegar is inexpensive enough that it might be worth a try.
Mix one part vinegar with two parts water, pour the mixture into a spray bottle, and douse every mushroom you see in your yard. You may have to repeat the process multiple times as new mushrooms sprout.
Physically Remove Them
As noted above, death caps can be hard to get rid of. If nothing else seems to work, you may have to resort to simply picking them and throwing them away every time you see them popping up.
Even if you’ve tried other methods of getting rid of them, you may want to walk through your yard each day and look for any death caps that may still be growing. If you spot them at any stage of growth, pick them immediately and discard them.
Death cap mushrooms are invasive and spread rapidly. Because they are highly toxic, you’ll want to get rid of them if you notice any growing in your yard.
Though it will probably take some time and effort, there are several things you can do to rid your yard of these mushrooms. Removing trees from your yard, allowing the soil to dry out and get plenty of sunshine, mowing over young mushrooms before they can produce spores, and physically removing them are all methods you can try.