Animal Poop Or Powder?

Q: We found what we at first thought was some kind of animal poop in our fenced backyard, but when I tried to move it, it was like a powder that blew in the air. 

A: It’s a puffball. There are thousands of species in the world and dozens in Georgia. They usually emerge as an inconspicuous ball from the ground in spring. They grow larger as they consume organic matter in the soil. Over a period of a few days, the skin of the puffball hardens and cracks, revealing the millions of spores within. Occasionally kids find a puffball before it cracks open. They delight in kicking it, releasing brown “smoke” (spores) around their shoes. A small percentage of the spores find a propitious place to grow and help nature continue its mission of breaking big things down into smaller bits.

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