8 Effective Methods: How To Get Rid Of Waterbugs

Although water bugs are not considered true pests and usually do not pose a threat in terms of diseases, it is definitely not comfortable having them around your home.

Some say that they are outdoor roaches, and consider them as a species of cockroach. But that’s not the truth.

If you are dealing with a water bug infestation, we have got you covered with expert insight and entomological facts…not fiction. Read on and learn how to get rid of waterbugs from your home and garden.

How To Identify Waterbugs

When considering how to get rid of waterbugs, you first need to successfully identify them. This is the first step in managing their removal so let’s resolve the often misidentified waterbug.

Waterbug or Water bug is a general term used to refer to any of the following species of bug that live in or around water:

  • Giant water bugs (Belostomatidae)
  • True Water Bugs (Nepomorpha)
  • Backswimmers (Notonectidae)
  • Creeping water bugs (Naucoridae)

However, the term waterbug is also often misused to include the land-living group of cockroaches. So what is the difference between waterbugs vs cockroaches:


  • German cockroach
  • American cockroach
  • Oriental cockroach

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the true water bug that resides in or around water.

Belostomatidae HuntingtonVT 1
Lethocerus Americanus
Binomial Name

Lethocerus americanus

Water bugs or Giant Water Bugs go by the scientific name Lethocerus americanus. They belong to the family Belostomatidae and are freshwater hemipteran insects. Toe-biters, Indian toe-biters, alligator ticks, or fleas are some of the most common colloquially used names.

Body Size

Water bugs are approximately 1.5 to 2 inches long

Body Shape

The body of a water bug consists of three parts: head, thorax, and abdomen. Their body is flat and oval-shaped and has a boat-like appearance.

Adult water bugs cannot breathe underwater, so a short breathing tube can be seen retracted into the abdomen. The tube functions are similar to a snorkel.

Overall, their body shape is well-suited for hunting, as the forelegs are modified into hook-shaped appendages to grasp and hold prey. The flattened hind legs resemble oars and are used to swim in the water.

Number of Legs

A giant water bug has six legs. The two frontal legs are hook-shaped appendages used to grasp and hold on to the prey. When the water bugs get hold of the prey, they inject a powerful poison that paralyzes the prey and liquefies its body.

The two hind legs are fringed and act as paddles or oars to keep the bug afloat.


Most water bugs have 2 eyes. You can often see short antennae tucked behind the eyes of water bugs.


Water bugs have a large body, typically brown or grayish in color.


Giant water bugs are aggressive predators, and their menu is pretty long. They mostly feed on aquatic insects, fish, and amphibians. Even though water bugs are often much smaller than their prey.

Whilst waiting for their prey to come closer, water bugs often lie motionless, holding onto plants in a freshwater pond or stream. When the prey passes by, Belostomatidae strikes it using the forelegs and injects a powerful toxin.

Unlike most species, the male water bug plays a role in caring for the eggs and carries them until they hatch, whereas the females spend considerable time seeking out males to mate with.


Water bugs, as their name suggests, spend most of their time in the water. They prefer warm and humid climates and are attracted to damp and moist areas with freshwater ponds, streams, and marshes being home to most species.

Giant water bugs are common in parts of Asia as well as other tropical and temperate regions of the world.

Water Bug Vs Cockroach

Water bugs and cockroaches are often mistaken for one another, but there are a few noticeable differences between them:


Water bugs are typically larger than cockroaches. Adult water bugs are about 2 inches long, whereas cockroaches are between 1 to 1.5 inches long.


Both water bugs and cockroaches can survive in water, but cockroaches prefer dry land. Water bugs prefer warm and humid climates and spend most of their time in the water.

Food and feeding

Cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers and are not picky when it comes to eating. They consume any leftovers available to them. Conversely, water bugs hunt and paralyze their prey by injecting a toxin.


Water bugs will bite you if it feels threatened. But cockroaches are mostly withdrawn, scurry away from bright lights and other species, and do not bite.

Pest Determination

True water bugs are not considered pests, as they don’t make life particularly difficult for humans. Whereas cockroaches are true pests and should be removed from domestic premises due to various health risks.

Sign of A Water Bug Infestation

When it comes to effectively eliminating pest infestations, early intervention is key so understanding where water bugs come from is critical. Being familiar with the common signs of a pest infestation will help you identify the problem at the earliest opportunity. Allowing you to follow our guidance on how to get rid of waterbugs.

Below we share some of the more common signs of a water bug infestation that will help you find them, and eliminate them effectively.

Water Bug In House

  • Droppings: Water bugs often leave egg cases and droppings where they live. Black pellets and discarded shells in your home might be an indication of the presence of water bugs nearby.
  • Humidity: Water bugs usually prefer to stay outdoors, but improper ventilation results in humidity and dampness, which appeals to them.
  • Leaky pipes: Since water bugs prefer damp and moist climates, they love to dwell in standing water. If you have been waiting to repair leaky pipes for a while, you are likely to find bugs hiding there.

Water Bug In Pool

Water bugs love standing water, and pools make an excellent breeding site for them. But, that does not mean you should compromise the luxury of a pool!

If there are water bugs in your pool, chances are there will be algae in the water or on pump fixtures. Most water bugs eat algae, and if they get to fill their stomachs, they are likely to hang around.

Look out for algae, and little eggs in your pool. They will also leave discarded shells, egg cases, and dropping in their surroundings. If you find small black pellets in your pool, it is time to clean it.

How To Get Rid Of Waterbugs

How To Treat A Water Bug Bite

Water bug bites are not usually a great concern to humans. But, one might experience a burning sensation at the sting site, and like any other bug bite, you have to treat it at the earliest opportunity.

The most common symptoms of bug bites are itching, redness, and swelling with some mild pain. The following home remedies can be effective to reduce the effects of a water bug bite:

  • Apply cold compresses on the sting site to reduce swelling
  • Apply cooking oil or peppermint oil
  • Mix turmeric powder and water to form a paste and apply it on the bite site
  • Apply Aloe vera gel
  • Take anti-inflammatory medicines to reduce swelling and pain
  • Apply a general insect bite cream or gel

However, if the reactions become severe, consult a medical professional immediately.

How To Kill A Waterbug

There are many ways to kill a waterbug. However, if you find them in large numbers They may prove difficult to eradicate.

In this circumstance, it is best to seek help from a pest control professional.

Here are a few ways to kill water bugs on a small scale:

1. Boric acid

Boric acid is an excellent pest control product that will kill waterbugs. This product usually comes in a powder form that you can sprinkle in areas where the waterbug’s activity is high.

When the waterbugs ingest boric acid, the chemicals reach the digestive system and poison them. You can buy Boric Acid at Amazon.com.


Sprinkle a thin layer of boric acid powder, most waterbugs will ignore thick piles of powder.

2. Synthetic pesticides

Synthetic pesticides are another excellent way to kill waterbugs. They come in spray or powders, containing powerful insecticide chemicals.

3. Water Bug Spray

Water Bug Sprays available online from Amazon and other retailers are perhaps the most commonly used treatment in DIY extermination of pests. When you spray the chemicals on the water bugs or their nests, they ingest the chemicals that damage the neurotransmitters. You will notice that the bugs gradually die a short while after exposure.

4. Water Bug Trap

Water bug traps or baits are a simple approach to eliminating an entire water bug colony. Once a bug comes in contact with a bait, that contains attractors, the bug takes it back to the nest, thereby eliminating a large number of water bugs after they consume the bait particles.


When you keep the bait inside your home, keep away all other food sources, including pet food, so that the bait is the only source of food for the waterbugs.

5. Essential oils

Essential oils such as lemongrass, peppermint, or cedarwood are commonly used to keep bugs away. The way oils work on bugs is interesting. Most bugs are extremely sensitive to moisture loss. When the oils get on the skin of water bugs, it dries out the wax on the skin, leaving them dried out and gradually kills them.

6 Natural methods

You can also try your hand at killing water bugs using the products available in your home. These include baking soda, alcohol, and detergents. Pour any of these on water bugs or their nests in order to kill them.

  • Baking soda: Baking soda is widely used to kill bugs, as it absorbs moisture and completely dehydrates the waterbugs after they have walked through it.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol kills water bugs in two ways. First, it acts as a solvent that dissolves the water bug’s outer shell, thereby killing them. Second, it is a good dehydrating agent, which, when poured on bugs, induces extreme dehydration. Pour alcohol into a spray bottle, dilute it with water, and spray on the waterbugs and their nests.
  • Detergents: Liquid dishwashing detergents are another readily available pest control product. The soap kills the water bugs by breaking down its protective skin, slowly killing them. Pour a few drops of liquid detergent into a spray bottle, mix it with water, and spray over the waterbugs and their nests.

How To Get Rid Of Waterbugs Humanely

Instead of killing water bugs, you can adopt many other practices to get rid of waterbugs humanely.

7. Water Bug Repellent

When it becomes too hard to kill all the water bugs, a water bug repellent is an excellent choice to fix the problem.

Bug repellent spray block’s the bug’s sense of smell, making its surroundings uninteresting and unattractive. Because of this, the water bugs are most likely to leave treated areas, in search of new, more rewarding environments.

8. Natural Water Bug Repellent

Vinegar is a natural bug repellant, used extensively throughout the world. It can serve as a serious deterrent to the infestation of water bugs. Fill a spray bottle with a high concentration of vinegar. Spray it over the affected area, both on the water bugs and their nesting sites.

How to Prevent Water Bugs in Your Home

It is difficult to completely eradicate water bugs that have taken shelter in or around your home, so it is best to prevent infestations before they happen. When you find water bugs in your home, take all the measures necessary to remove them and block their entry points.

Learn how to keep water bugs out of the house with these five actionable tips:

Get rid of standing water

The single most important preventive measure to get rid of “water” bugs is to get rid of the water itself. Remove all the standing water sources, or clean the existing ones to prevent water bug infestation.

Fix pipe leaks and eliminate damp areas. Remember, water bugs prefer damp and moist environments.

Improve ventilation

Water bugs do not necessarily stay outdoors; they come indoors if the environment is humid and moist. To reduce humidity, open the windows, and improve ventilation.

Seal all food containers

Food leftovers will be a siren call to water bugs unless they are tightly sealed with air-tight lids. Clean the dishes as soon as you finish eating and change the garbage bins frequently. Do not leave food out overnight, or you will be making it too easy for water bugs to find their favorite spot…your kitchen.

Moreover, restrict eating to a particular room, so that you don’t accidentally leave out morsels of food.

Seal the entry points

Look out for cracks, holes, and crevices in your home, and seal them using steel wool, cement, or similar materials. Inspect windows and doors for holes and gaps through which water bugs can crawl through.

Set up traps and baits

Baits are the most effective way to eliminate the entire colony of water bugs. Traps, baits, and repellents are available online in the form of powder or spray. Set up traps and baits in areas of high water bug activity.

Water Bug Extermination Service

Let’s face it. Nobody wants bugs in their homes. We often try DIY treatments, but they work only to an extent.

When the waterbug infestation becomes too overwhelming, the best thing to do is call an experienced waterbug exterminator. If the problem persists after multiple DIY treatments, it may be necessary to seek professional help.

Pest control is essential because they can infest bedrooms and kitchens, or bite you, your kids, and your pets. Seeking the help of a professional pest control specialist is the best way to ensure safety from any pests.

In this circumstance, it is best to seek help from a pest control professional. This is because they will have the skills, experience, and products necessary to carry out thorough extermination. Jason from Empire Pest Control shares that “Professional pest controllers use high-powered chemicals and sprays to kill waterbugs on contact. In addition, they will also treat the surrounding areas to ensure that all the bugs are eliminated.” This will give you long-lasting results and peace of mind that your home is bug-free. 

How To Get Rid Of Waterbugs Summary

So there we have it! Waterbugs are a whole different species to cockroaches despite the common misconception.

Although not considered a true risk to human health or hygiene, it’s often best to take action and manage the problem before it becomes a task for professionals.

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