Termites typically live in colonies, entering your structure through cracks in the foundation. According to the National Pest Management Association, these wood-destroying insects are responsible for $5 billion worth of damage per year. Homeowners may unknowingly have termites eating away inside the walls of their home doing damage to their largest investment. There are some subtle signs that termites have invaded your structure. Here’s three to look for:

The Swarm

A reproductive swarm happens when large numbers of winged insects emerge from the ground, typically on a warm day in the spring or early summer. These reproductive termites are looking to pair up, reproduce and develop their own colony —sometimes inside your home. You may not see the actual swarm happen because they occur quickly, but, finding a pile of wings usually in the basement during the spring time may indicate that a termite colony is present in your home. An actual swarm is a telltale sign that termites are present and you should contact a pest management professional. If possible, capture some of those swarmers or wings in a glass jar to show to the pest management professional so he or she can make a positive identification of the insect.

Hallowed Out Wood

While inspecting your home or doing routine maintenance around the perimeter of your home, you discover a wooden section that when tapped on sounds hollowed out. Because termites eat wood from the inside out, you should investigate this finding further to look for possible termite damage. If it is determined that termites were to blame, you’ll need to replace the wood and have a pest management professional complete a termite treatment.

Mud Tunnels

Termites build tunnels to travel from their nest to their food source (typically the wood in and around your home) in a protected environment. These mud tunnels or tubes about the size of the width of a pencil will begin to appear along interior or exterior walls.

Being told that you have termites can be quite unsettling, and chances are you didn’t realize that the problem existed. Termite problems should be addressed immediately to avoid further damage to your home. Call on a trusted pest management professional to rid your home of these destructive creatures for good.