Slime moulds are incredibly common but in the wild, unless you're really lucky and find a big one like this fulgio ( dog's vomit slime mould ) or you go looking under and inside old logs and branches, you won't often see them because they’re usually small and like to stay out of the light.
Moist Chamber Technique
By putting samples in a warm, damp environment for a bit you can give yourself a better chance of finding your own wild slimes. The moist chamber technique is how we do this. It's good for finding slimes but it can take a while - they sometimes show up after eight weeks or more, and you'll get all sorts of other things showing up - including protostelids and cellular slime moulds.
Slime moulds are harmless but other moulds, and bacteria that grow might not be. Always wash your hands after handling your tubs, definitely don’t eat anything that grows or stick your nose in the tub.
- Water tight tubs
- Kitchen towel
- Magnifying glass or microscope
How to do it
A few old margarine tubs or other old food containers are perfect for this, clean them first and please don’t use them for food again afterwards. Fold up a sheet of kitchen towel and put it in the bottom of the tub, give it a good soaking of tap water and pour out all the excess liquid. Go outside and have a look around, try to find bits of twigs, leaves and things that have gone a little bit rotten already and put one or two small pieces in each tub, try to avoid picking up little critters like woodlice and earwigs – they’ll be happier outside. Put the lids on the tubs and bring them indoors. Now wash your hands!
Keep them in the dark, room temperature is fine. Every few days have a look. You might see thin tendrils crawling across bits of wood or on the kitchen towel, they might be bright yellow, they might be beige but they’re slime moulds!
They’re nearly impossible to identify when they’re in the crawling around stage, it’s the tiny mushroom like fruiting bodies you need for that. You could try leaving one in the light for a few days and see if it makes spores.
When you’re finished, put the leftovers on the compost or in the bin, wash your tubs and reuse or recycle them.
Why not take some photographs and send them in We’d love to know how you get on!
You can email us here - i dot j dot portman at warwick dot ac dot uk
|Here's one we found, we persuaded it to move onto a wet piece of tissue so we could see it better.||They're not always yellow and they're not always easy to spot. A magnifying glass is a big help.|
|Persuading them onto a bit of agar or kitchen towel can make them easier to see||With a mobile phone camera it's easy to make time lapse movies of your wild finds.|