Asked September 3, 2016, 11:04 AM EDT

My parents had what looked like a mushroom growing from the concrete floor on their screened in porch a couple of months ago. It was growing against a wall that attaches to their garage. They store a piece of painted plywood in front of the wall. They pulled the "mushroom" out and didn't think anymore about it. Last week they noticed a red dust throughout the porch. They checked the spot were the "mushroom" first appeared before and it seemed to come from that area. They are afraid that the red dust may be toxic. Do you have any thoughts of what this could be or if it could be toxic?

Anne Arundel County Maryland

1 Response

Mushrooms are the fruiting part of a fungus. Fungi live of decomposing (i.e. rotting) wood. It would seem that your parents have rotting wood in their screened-in porch. The red dust could be spores from unseen mushrooms, or the sawdush/frass from boring insects or ants. Your parents should figure out why the wood is rotting. It may be touching the ground, or getting moisture from some source. The problem needs to be addressed and the wood replaced. Rotting wood also attracts carpenter ants and other insects.

Use the search box on our website for more information about carpenter ants and woodboring insects.