I have this old 2x4 that we removed from somewhere in the house and which has been sitting outside in a pile with other lumber for a while. I wanted to cut a small piece from it and noticed that one end has these tubular marks filled with powdery particles resembling saw dust. The wood is relatively dry and when I removed some of that substance I didn't see any insects or anything with my naked eye.

Should I be concerned that this was sitting next to the house? Is this evidence of previous termite infestation or something else? And is it okay to use a piece from the other end of this piece that doesn't have any such marks?

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  • Is the substance powdery like saw dust or is it more of a hardened paste? Carpenter ants don't eat wood, they just carve it and it leaves a lot of dust. Termites will actually eat, digest, and excrete the wood.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 26 at 17:36
  • If you cut a small piece from this lumber then just make sure that none of the 6 sides show signs of the same damage. Is re-using this lumber really worth an infestation risk as opposed to buying a new two-by-four?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 26 at 17:39
  • It's for an outdoor project where we are trying to use old lumber as much as possible given the current lumber price hike. And yes, it's almost exactly like saw dust.
    – 0pt1m1z3
    Apr 26 at 17:44
  • Sounds good, do as you please then. If it was still infested with carpenter ants you would have seen them evacuate as soon as you picked up the wood. Like I said, just make sure the piece you're cutting off and using does not have signs of similar damage. It might look benign from the outside but if you rip that piece on a table saw then you will likely see that the structural integrity has been compromised with a network of tunnels.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Apr 26 at 17:50
  • Try to push a screwdriver or awl into the wood. If termites, the wood will be soft (eaten). It looks like the splotches might be the remnants of cocoons, in which case the wood under them will be hard.
    – Yehuda_NYC
    Apr 26 at 19:15

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