Have you been feeling sneezy and stuffy lately?
You aren't alone, and it could be due to melting snow combined with a fungus called snow mould.
This disease can damage or kill grass when the snow melts.
The fungus is dormant during the warmer months and it's unable to grow in winter because cold, dry winter air prevents it from expanding.
The mould begins to infect plants when gradually warming temperatures or brief warm spells cause snow to melt, providing the fungi with the moisture it needs to survive.
Damage is usually concentrated to small patches of dead grass, but some fields can contain several such patches. The fungus can vary in colour, from pink to grey and resembles cobwebs or small black masses.
While the damage it causes is mostly superficial, fungal spores can trigger allergies and asthma attacks in humans.
In some cases, an antihistamine will alleviate symptoms but it's best to check with a medical professional before taking any medication.
Because the fungal spores travel through the atmosphere, it can be difficult to avoid a snow mould-induced allergy attack -- but avoiding large piles of snow can help.
Removing all lawn debris and keeping grass short prior to a snowfall can help prevent the fungus from developing as well.
Luckily, it won't stick around forever. Warm spring air and drier conditions will eventually kill off the remaining spores.
MOULD AND WEATHER
You can’t bank on freezing temperatures whisking mould away like it does to pollen.
“Most outdoor moulds become inactive during the winter, and start to grow again when the temperature reaches around 0°C," says Mehnaz Rahman, Communications and Public Affairs manager for Asthma Canada. "When the snow starts to melt, the mould is exposed and their spores become airborne. The additional humidity from snow melt allows them to grow even faster.”
Thumbnail image courtesy: Unsplash.