AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- It's been a warmer winter than usual and bugs are starting to make their way out of their homes and into yours.

All year long, Braman Termite and Pest Elimination in Agawam is busy with customer calls about various insects, depending on the season.

Right now, entomologist Natasha Wright is getting calls about a particular insect that usually doesn't show up until April: termites.

"They normally swarm in the spring. That's when you see those winged-swarmers come out. Because of the warm temperatures, they're actually thinking spring has arrived early," Wright noted.

Wright shared photos with Western Mass News showing termite damage in homes around the area. She said the problem is people mistake termites for ants.

"They're seeing winged insects, worried if they're termites or ants, so knowing the difference between the two...'cause they would cause different problems," Wright explained.

Wright points out a couple of things to distinguish the two.

"Ants are going to have a slimmer waist, while termites are much broader like a sausage shape. When it comes to the wings, termite wings will be exactly the same size. For ants, the four wings are going to be much larger, the front will be smaller," Wright said.

Seeing swarmers - the big, winged termites - are a sign that working termites, ones you can't see, are nearby doing damage.

"If you have swarmers coming out, you've probably had termites come out, eating the wood, unknown in your home," Wright noted.

Termites will destroy wood. They travel along a so-called highway to get there.

"Termites have to stay moist. Otherwise, they dissipate, dry out, and die...so whenever they have to move above the soil, they take feces, they take soil particles, they take dirt and make these little mudtube highways to travel by," Wright said.

Mudtubes are a significant sign of termites in you home. Wright explains how to spot them.

"Sometimes, it'll be really obvious going straight up that wall, but a lot of times, homeowners don't realize they'll be in the cracks around the joints in the basement or if you ever see wood with a little soil, that's a mudtube devleoping,"

Since termites can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home, Wright said the best thing you can do is to call a local pest control company as soon as you see signs.

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