How To Get Rid Of Water Bugs [7+ Simple And Effective Methods]

how to get rid of water bugs

How To Get Rid of Water Bugs

How to get rid of water bugs

There’s no place like home. However, that’s if your home is the way you want it. For one reason or the other, you might be confronted with pest problems. This makes you anxious about going home, especially if you have a fear of bugs.

It can be overwhelming to have a bug problem, especially with water bugs. They can distort your relaxation time and peace of mind at home.

Well, they’ve had their reign. Now, it’s time to get your house back under your control. In this post, we will be talking about how to get rid of water bugs in straightforward steps. We’ll also chime in with some preventive steps and products that can kill water bugs instantly.

Before we go ahead, let’s first know what we are dealing with.

What are Water Bugs?

“Water bug,” just like “bed worm,” is a term that is commonly used to refer to many pests, especially cockroaches. However, there are insects that are water bugs, like the true water bugs (Nepomorpha) and giant water bugs (Belostomatidae). In reality, when most people use water bugs, they are referring to oriental cockroaches.

Roaches are called water bugs due to their likeness to wet and damp areas. They always climb leaky and wet pipes, hang out in dirty and moist areas, and are usually seen in kitchen and bathroom drains.

While these cockroaches do not cause any structural damage, unlike termites, they might give your house a musky roach odor. You definitely don’t want that.

In essence, “water bug” is a general term that refers to species of bugs that prefer wet or damp environments. They are;

  • True water bugs (Nepomorpha)
  • Giant water bugs (Belostomatidae)
  • Backswimmers (Notonetidae)
  • Creeping water bugs (Naucoridae)

However, in everyday conversation, the term “water bug” is commonly misused for cockroaches. Therefore, when someone tells you they have a water bug problem, it is most likely a roach problem.

What Do Water Bugs Look Like [Water Bug Vs Roach]

how to get rid of water bugs

When it comes to the appearance of water bugs, it depends on which insect we are talking about. As we’ve said, “water bug” is a term generally used for several bugs, including true water bugs and cockroaches.

Nevertheless, all the insects classified as water bugs are dark to tan in color. They also all have antennae, hardbacks, and a rounded or beetle-like shape. These are some general features that all water bugs have, no matter the species. Now, let’s take a look at the particular appearances of true water bugs and roaches.

Giant Water Bugs (Belostomatidae)

Giant water bugs, also called toe biters, are about 1.5 to 2 inches long. They have a three-segmented body that is flat and oval-shaped. These features make a giant water bug’s body have a boat-like appearance.

Even though they are named water bugs, adult water bugs cannot breathe in water. To survive in water, there is a short breathing tube that is retractable into the abdomen. This tube helps them breathe while in water, and functions exactly like a snorkel.

Giant water bugs come with six legs. The two hind legs act as paddlers to help the bug stay afloat in the water. The two frontal legs are used to grasp and hold on to prey thanks to their hook shape.

Water bugs grow to have a large body compared to many other insects. Their color is usually anywhere from brown to grayish. They have two eyes with their antennae tucked behind them.

Water Bugs Vs Roaches

The term “water bug” is commonly used interchangeably for both giant water bugs and cockroaches. In fact, it is used more for roaches than giant water bugs. Why is this so? You are more likely to see cockroaches indoors than giant water bugs.

When it comes to size, roaches are way smaller than giant water bugs. Cockroaches grow to be about 1 to 1.5 inches long, while giant water bugs can reach up to 2 inches long.

Although both insects can survive in water, cockroaches prefer dry land. On the other hand, giant water bugs spend most of their lives in water bodies such as ponds and pools.

Cockroaches eat whatever is available. They are not selective when it comes to food. On the other hand, giant water bugs hunt for their food. With their specialized features, they paralyze their prey and consume them.

With how common it is, you probably know how roaches behave. They love scurrying around dark and damp areas. If disturbed by movement or light, they just run away to safety. A giant water bug, on the other hand, can bite you if it feels frightened.

True water bugs are hardly considered pests because you rarely see them inside your home, so they don’t inconvenience you. However, roaches can drive you crazy with their sheer numbers alone. You might wake up to see one crawling on your leg. That’s just scary.

While all these insects are termed “water bugs,” the most likely water bugs in your house are roaches. You start thinking of true or giant water bugs if they are present outdoors.

Where Do Waterbugs Come From?

As we’ve said, water bugs are not really considered household pests except when the term is used to refer to cockroaches. True water bugs are aquatic pests alongside water boatmen and others. They spend most of their lives in water bodies such as ponds.

Water bugs can be found outdoors in marshes, outdoor drainage systems, near ponds, and other damp areas. Even though they spend most of their lives outdoors, living in water, they temporarily relocate in the summer to avoid the heat. Another reason for their temporary relocation is to hunt for food since they are predators.

That means you can sometimes see true or giant water bugs in your house if you live close to bodies of water. They can make their way into your home through drainage systems or sewers in search of food, shelter, and good living conditions.

On the other hand, cockroaches are indoor pests and are attracted to dirty and damp areas in your house. They are persistent and difficult to eradicate because of their highly efficient reproductive abilities. Similar to true water bugs, roaches invade your house in search of food and shelter.

What are the Signs of Water Bug Infestation?

You can’t fight what you don’t know. Therefore, the first step in getting rid of waterbugs is to identify signs of infestation. These signs will allow you to plan an early intervention by following the steps in this post.

It is important to know what to look out for when you suspect a water bug infestation. Some of these signs will be discussed in this section to broaden the information you already have.

Water Bugs In House

Leaky Pipes: If you have leaky pipes anywhere in your house, then you are likely to find water bugs in that area, especially cockroaches. Since they prefer to inhabit a wet, damp, and humid area, water bugs are likely to infest any area of your house with leaky pipes.

Humidity: The humidity inside your house becomes appealing to water bugs due to improper ventilation. Increased humidity increases dampness, and that’s the ideal situation for water bugs.

Droppings: They are animals and excrete waste materials just like you and me. Therefore, in a water bug infestation, you’re likely to find black pellet droppings in your home. In addition, you will find egg shells and discarded shells in your home, signifying a growing water bug infestation.

Water Bugs In Pool

Water bugs enjoy staying in static water such as pools. It is an excellent living and breeding site for them. However, finding water bugs in your pool means there is probably algae in the pool or somewhere along the pipe.

Water bugs feast on algae as well. They tend to stay around if they can get a steady supply of algae to fill up their stomachs.

Therefore, if you have suspicions of having water bugs in your pool, check for the presence of algae and little eggs in your pool. Just like in your house, water bugs will leave egg cases, droppings, and discarded shells in your pool.

Hence, once you see small black pellets in your pool, you don’t need further confirmation before cleaning your pool. If not, you will have a full-blown infestation that might require a pest control expert.

Why Do You Get Waterbugs?

From all we have said, it is now obvious that water bugs are attracted to damp and humid areas. In addition, a dirty and unkempt house can be an unlimited source of food for these bugs. Therefore, if you have a leaky pipe or kitchen sink, then you might have a water bug infestation sooner than later if you don’t fix the problem.

Moreover, if you don’t clean up enough and leave food crumbs all over the place, water bugs will definitely come visiting because of the food supply.

How to Get Rid of Water Bugs

Just like other bugs, there are several ways to eliminate water bugs. However, this is only the case if you have a small-scale infestation. If water bugs have invaded your home in large numbers, then the best course of action is to invite a pest control expert.

Assuming you are dealing with a small-scale infestation, here are a few ways to eradicate water bugs. The methods of water bug eradication will be divided into natural and synthetic.

Natural Methods

1. Boric Acid

Boric acid has been an age-old product for pest control. It does a good job of eliminating water bugs and controlling infestations. It is powdery in nature and sprinkled all over the area where water bugs are nested.

When ingested, boric acid acts as a poison to water bugs and this ends up killing them. When sprinkling boric acid, avoid dropping large clumps because water bugs will end to avoid them. Rather drop thin layers of this powdered product for effective elimination of water bugs.

It cannot be used as bait; therefore it is usually mixed with other things to attract the insects. Sugar has been found to work well as a mixture with boric acid.

2. Diatomaceous Earth

A well-known treatment for water bug infestation is diatomaceous earth. It is 100% natural, safe to use, and not harmful to pets or children. The best part of it all is that it is effective and fast-acting.

Diatomaceous earth alone cannot serve as bait, just like boric acid. Therefore, to attract water bugs to eat or walk through the diatomaceous earth, you would have to mix it with something else. Powdered sugar has been found to work well with diatomaceous earth. When mixed, spread it on specific parts of your house.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is widely used as a method of water bug control. It dries them out by sucking out water from their bodies, leading to severe dehydration. However, baking soda might not be as effective as synthetic methods of water bug control specifically made to kill these bugs.

Home Remedies

Some home remedies used to kill water bugs include essential oils, detergents, alcohol, etc.

Essential oils such as peppermint or lemongrass are commonly used to keep water bugs away. Essential oil works similarly to baking soda. When the essential oil comes into contact with the skin of the water bug, it dries out the wax on its skin and exposes it to dehydration. Water bugs are very sensitive to water loss.

Water bugs can be killed in two ways by alcohol. It can act as a dehydrating agent just like essential oil and boric acid. It can be a solvent and dissolve the outer layer of water bugs, thereby eradicating them. You can achieve this by diluting alcohol with water and spraying it over the nest of water bugs.

Detergents also do a decent job of killing water bugs. It combats water bug infestations by breaking down the outer protective skin of these bugs and leaving them out to die slowly.

Synthetic Methods

1. Synthetic Pesticides

This is a rather fast and effective method of killing water bugs. There are several brands out there that do a good job of eliminating water bugs. They contain very potent insecticide chemicals and can come in sprays or powders.

2. Water Bug Spray

This is sort of a DIY method of water bug extermination. It is widely used to kill water bugs and works by damaging the nervous system of these bugs. You can use it by spraying it on the nest of water bugs and notice them die off after a short while.

3. Gel Baits/Water Bug Traps

Gel baits are a very effective means to combat water bug infestations. It is a powerful method of water bug eradication because it hides insecticides inside a special formula that these bugs are eager to consume.

Gel baits are best applied near cracks, holes, or anywhere where you think water bugs might be hiding. The unique thing about gel bait that differentiates it from sprays is that it spreads throughout the water bug nest. Therefore if one bug eats it, it will affect every bug in that colony and eventually wipe them out.

How does it happen? Water bugs are known to feed on their dead counterparts. Therefore, when one of these bugs has eaten the gel bait, it doesn’t die immediately. Rather, it dies later when it returns to the nest. As the others feed on this dead bug, they consume the pesticide too.

Hence, even if it is only one bug that eats the gel bait you set out, it will eventually affect all the members of the nest. In essence, gel baits are the ideal method to get rid of water bugs.

What Kills Waterbugs Instantly?

While many of the products available can kill water bugs, many of them kill the bugs slowly. If you are looking for methods that kill water bugs instantly, then it boils down to using chemical pesticides. To use these pesticides, just follow the instructions on the label of the product.

One of the problems is actually finding where these water bugs are hiding. However, if you are able to deduce all the hiding locations of these water bugs, spraying this chemical pesticide in those areas will bring about instant eradication.

How to Prevent Water Bugs from Entering Your House

Prevention is always better than a cure. In this case, it is better to prevent water bugs from entering your house than to treat an infestation. Even if you successfully control a water bug infestation, you will have to take some preventive measures to avoid future invasion by these bugs.

1. Get rid of stagnant water

The most important preventive measure when it comes to water bugs is to remove any standing water in your house. Therefore, there should be no clogged drains or stagnant gutter water. It would help if you also eliminated damp areas by fixing leaky pipes and drains.

Improve ventilation.

High humidity as a result of poor ventilation can lead to a damp environment. This can attract water bugs that are trying to escape harsh conditions outdoors.

3. Seal all food

Food crumbs or open food are very attractive to water bugs. They invade any house that does not seal off food and leave their kitchen filled with food crumbs. Therefore, you should always seal your food and keep your kitchen clean. Do the dirty dishes and regularly throw away your trash.

Don’t leave food overnight, but if you must, seal it in an airtight container or put it in the refrigerator. Additionally, eating should be restricted to a particular room. This is so that you don’t leave food crumbs all over your house and cause a catastrophic water bug infestation.

4. Seal off entry points.

There have to be some entry points for water bugs to gain access to your home. Usually, it is the cracks, crevices, or holes in your wall, door, or windows. Once you seal off these openings with the appropriate material, you can prevent water bugs from entering your house.

5. Setting up bait

Even if water bugs enter your home after you have taken all the necessary preventive steps, then the gel baits will take it from there. These baits, as we have described above, are able to wipe out the whole colony. Therefore, setting up water bug baits and traps is also a good preventive step.

Conclusion [How to Get Rid of Water Bugs]

“Water bug” is a general term most people use to refer to cockroaches. However, there are true water bugs such as those from the Nepomorpha and Belostomatidae families. While there are similarities between roaches and true water bugs, they are quite different.

When it comes to getting rid of water bugs, you first have to make sure you are dealing with water bugs. In the post, we have discussed several signs that would indicate that you are dealing with a water bug infestation.

If it is a large-scale water bug infestation, it is best to consult a pest control specialist. However, if it is a small-scale infestation, there are several methods to control it, which we have discussed in detail in this post.

In the end, you want to prevent water bugs from invading your house even after successfully eradicating them. This can be achieved by following the preventive steps we discussed above. Early intervention is vital in water bug infestations.


Are water bugs roaches?

While the term is used interchangeably, water bugs are different from roaches. Water bugs spend most of their lives outdoors near water while roaches can be easily found indoors in dark and humid places.

Why do water bugs come out in summer?

The heat of summer tends to destroy the natural habitat of water bugs by drying up ponds and marshes.. During this period they are likely to enter your home in search of shelter, damp areas and food.

Are water bugs harmful?

When threatened, giant water bugs can bite your toes. This is where its nickname, toe-biter, is gotten from. However, the bite is not poisonous.

Do water bugs crawl on bed?

Water bugs tend to avoid contact with humans. However, they can be attracted to your bed by the sweat collected on the bed sheet.

Can giant water bugs fly?

Yes, they can. They are sometimes called electric light bugs due to their likelihood to fly towards light.