Stink bugs are back. Actually they never left, but now is the time of year when they become a bigger problem for homes and farms.

Stink bugs are back. (Lynn Bunting, ThinkStock)

Phil Cooper, president of the New Jersey Pest Management Association says they plague homeowners because,  "they are looking for places where they can stay warm for the winter and restart their cycle again next spring."

Stink bugs live throughout the year.  But as we enter into the fall and the winter, they are looking to survive, they go into survival mode, and they exhibit a behavior called, "overwintering."

Cooper says the stink bug is related to the bed bug.

"They both possess biting mouth parts," Cooper said. "But unlike a bed bug, which uses mouth parts to suck blood, stink bugs will damage crops by sticking their mouth parts into vegetables and fruits and defacing and destroying them."

And while they can be a house pest, Cooper say they cause big problems for farm crops, "stink bugs are a huge agricultural issue." The U.S. Department of Agriculture has formed a work group of leading researchers to deal with this. Cooper says even if you don't have a home stink bug problem yet, get a professional treatment to get out in front of what he says may be a very heavy year for the pests.

"We are seeing stink bugs earlier this year than normal," Cooper said. "So they are out there right now."

He says the pest management industry has made gigantic strides in recent years on stink bug services.

"The trick with stink bugs is to get to the home before the stink bugs arrive. We are right at that cusp right now. So usually in the middle of August to the middle of September is the best time to treat a home before the stink bugs arrive to repel them. And then, as we move into the fall it becomes more difficult," he said.

By way of identification, what does a stink bug look like?

"When I describe a stink bug, I say that it is squat, it is compact, so it is about a half-inch long," Cooper said. "Maybe about a half-inch wide...sort of oval it is definitely brown, and it looks kind of like prehistoric."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New jersey 101.5.