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 an infestation, we have got you covered with expert insight and entomological facts…not fiction. Read on and learn how to get rid of waterbugs in your home and garden.

Sign of An 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.

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 Bugs In The House

  • Droppings: The 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 pests 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

This bug loves 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 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 droppings in their surroundings. If you find small black pellets in your pool, it is time to clean it.

8 Ways To Get Rid of Waterbugs

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 them 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 bugs ingest boric acid, the chemicals reach the digestive system and poison them. You can buy Boric Acid at most DIY retailers. Tip: Sprinkle a thin layer of boric acid powder. Most waterbugs will ignore thick piles of powder.

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Boric Acid
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Bug Powder
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Bug Spray

2. Synthetic Pesticides

Synthetic pesticides are another excellent way to kill bugs. They come in sprays or powders containing powerful insecticide chemicals.

3. Bug Spray

Water bug sprays available online and from retailers are perhaps the most commonly used treatment in the DIY extermination of pests. When you spray the chemicals on the 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. Bug Trap

Bug traps or baits are a simple approach to eliminating an entire water bug colony. Once a bug comes in contact with bait that contains attractants, the bug takes it back to the nest, thereby eliminating a large number after they consume the bait particles. Tip: 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 killing them.

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Essential Oils

6 Natural Methods

You can also try your hand at killing these bugs using the products available in your home. These include baking soda, alcohol, and detergents. Pour any of these on the bug 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 bugs after they have walked through it.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol will kill them in two ways. First, it acts as a solvent that dissolves the 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 it on the waterbugs and their nests.
  • Detergents: Liquid dishwashing detergents are another readily available pest control product. The soap kills the bugs by breaking down their 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.

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

7. Bug Repellent

When it becomes too hard to kill all the water bugs, a 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 bugs are most likely to leave treated areas in search of new, more rewarding environments.

8. Natural Bug Repellent

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

Prevent Waterbugs Getting into Your Home

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

Learn how to keep these 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 standing water sources, or clean existing ones, to prevent infestation.

Fix pipe leaks and eliminate damp areas. Remember, they 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 any insect 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 bugs can crawl.

Set up traps and baits

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

Identifying 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 bug.

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

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

Approximately 1.5 to 2 inches long

Body Shape

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

Adults 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 onto prey. When they 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 have 2 eyes. You can often see short antennae tucked behind the eyes of water bugs.


They 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 they are often much smaller than their prey.

Whilst waiting for their prey to come closer, the bug often lies 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 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.


As their name suggests, these bugs 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 bugs are about 2 inches long, whereas cockroaches are between 1 to 1.5 inches long.


Both can survive in water but cockroaches prefer dry land. However, water bugs do 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 they feel threatened. 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.

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 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.

Bug Extermination Service

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

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

Pest control is essential because it can infest bedrooms and kitchens, or cause bites to 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 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. 

Final Verdict On Managing Waterbugs

So there we have it! Waterbugs are a whole different species from 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

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