There's been a high number of foreclosures in New Jersey and nationwide. Abandoned homes can become havens for termites.

"Termites often go undetected and because of that, homeowners are often unaware of their presence. If a home is left abandoned and untreated with termites present, they will continue to do damage and they will move on to a new wood source. So, the move from one house to another is very possible," said Leonard Douglen, Executive Director of the New Jersey Pest Management Association.

"It takes a number of years for termites to do significant damage," said Douglen. Based on normal feeding activity, it can take from three to eight years for a termite colony to do serious damage. The most visible sign of an infestation are the mud tunnels termites build to access a structure, often against the foundation. The tunnels are frequently visible in the basement or under porches and other parts of the home.

"In the springtime, the most visible evidence of a termite infestation are the winged "elates" which are the termites whose job it is to start new colonies. This is a mating flight of hundreds or thousands and can last anywhere from three to five days," said Douglen. ""If you have termite swarms, you know about it because they come out in large quantities, they are attracted to light and they usually drop their wings."

"If you live in a neighborhood where there is an abandoned home, you should probably get your own home inspected," said Douglen. "But, it is essential to know that the person you hire to inspect your home has the proper credentials and training to insure that, if a termite colony exists he can find it."

People often get termites confused with winged ants because they look similar. "A termite has a straight body compared to an ant which has a pinched waist. The termite's antennae are straight while ants have an elbowed antennae," said Douglen. "The best thing to do is gather a few samples of the winged insects and seal them in a plastic envelope. Then call a pest control firm."