Water bugs are frequently spotted in the wild as they’re spread around the entire world and reproduce very quickly. Seeing them in your pool, however, isn’t as enjoyable.
If you find aquatic bugs in a pool — especially near your house — you’ll likely want to get them out as quickly as possible and prevent them from ever returning.
These bugs, as you’re about to learn, aren’t a problem on their own, but are an indication of a more complex issue with pool maintenance.
Read on to learn how to remove water bugs and my top tips to keep them at bay for good.
What Causes Water Bugs In Pools?
The most common insect species seen in your pool (which I’ll explain in detail later) are attracted to algae and microorganisms. They use microorganisms for food, while they use algae as breeding spots and to lay eggs in.
Just like flies, these bugs are attracted to your home because it offers shelter and food. The simple solution then is to eliminate the algae in your pool to eliminate bugs.
Remove Water Bugs From Your Pool — Step By Step
Removing the bugs themselves is easy. What isn’t so easy is controlling them in the long term. Here’s how to do it:
1. Skim Off The Bugs
First things first, you need to remove any bugs found on the surface of the water. The good news is, you most likely won’t find larger specimens in your pool, so it’ll be easy to remove them.
Large aquatic bugs feed on larger prey, some even feed on small fish and amphibians, and I assume you don’t have fish in your pool.
You are most likely to find these bugs staying on the surface of the water. They generally don’t dive, although some bugs do have the ability of diving. Remove these bugs with your pool skimmer and then you can move on to giving your pool a thorough wash.
Cleaning your pool thoroughly will prove pointless if you haven’t removed the bugs first.
2. Vacuum Up The Algae
Your mind might automatically go to using chlorine to clean the algae, which is necessary, but it’s not the first thing you should do. Firstly, you need to vacuum the algae with a pool vacuum.
Later on, when you’re using chemical solutions to clean the pool, it’ll be much easier for them to do their jobs because you already got rid of so much algae.
The thing people don’t like hearing is that you have to manually do this. Algae can’t be cleaned well with robotic pool vacuums. Only move on to the next step once you vacuumed as much algae as possible.
Up next, you’re going to use the good stuff made for algae killing – chlorine. Before you do, though, make sure to scrub the walls and the floor of your pool to get rid of any residual algae that your pool vacuum didn’t get.
Removing as much algae as possible will make it easier for chlorine to do its job.
3. Kill The Algae
Removing algae with chlorine is known as ‘shocking the pool’ because of the effects chlorine has on algae. The amount of chlorine you need depends on the capacity of your pool and the pH levels.
A general rule is:
a) liquid solutions – 3.3 liters per 38,000 liters of water
b) granular chlorine – 0.45 kilograms per 38,000 liters of water
If you constantly use chlorine in your pool to keep it clean, it’s recommended to use chlorine tablets. However, chlorine tablets aren’t as effective as shock treatment because they’re slow-releasing.
Most chlorine products require you to dilute them in water before you introduce them to the pool. When you’re pouring the solution into the pool, you have to walk around the pool to distribute it equally.
Before you add chlorine to your pool, make sure to test the pH levels of the water. To do this, you have to buy a pool water testing kit. The chlorine will come with instructions on how much you need to use depending on the pH levels.
For example, you might need to use more than the standard 3.3L/0.45KG per 38,000 liters if your pH levels are too high.
Follow the instructions on the label of your chlorine solution until your pool is clean.
4. Check pH Levels
You’re going to have to check the water’s pH levels after shocking the pool too. Why? Because chlorine can alter the water’s pH to such a degree that it’d be dangerous for you to swim in the water.
There are chlorine shock treatments that cause the pH levels to go above 10, which will require you to lower the pH back down with an acidic treatment. Pool supply stores have products made specifically to counteract high pH levels.
Ideally, the pH level of your pool should always be between 7.2 and 7.8. Water with a low pH can irritate the skin and damage your piping, while water with a high pH can’t utilize chlorine to stay clean.
Tips To Keep Your Pool Clean
The condition of your pool should improve noticeably within the first 24 hours after cleaning, provided you follow the steps above. If it doesn’t, you will have to add another dose of chlorine shocker.
Keep doing this until the algae are dead.
You’ll know that the algae are dead because they’ll turn white or even grey – the pool is clean when there’s no more green stuff. At this point, you should vacuum your pool floor again.
Lastly, know that the three most common types of algae are called green, black, and mustard algae.
Green algae can be killed very easily with algicides – chlorinating the pool in the evening and brushing the pool for a few days can kill the algae with ease.
Mustard algae are more difficult to kill than green algae. You treat it much the same way you’d treat green algae but you have to use special mustard algicides to prevent it from returning. Ask about these products at your pool supply store.
Black algae can be somewhat controlled with chlorine and brushing but you’ll most likely need to drain your pool to clean it completely.
Preventing Water Bugs In Your Swimming Pool
Water bugs are present in every single habitat on the planet, except for arctic areas, so there’s no hiding from them. The only way to prevent these bugs from invading your pool is to prevent algae from growing.
Since they use algae as breeding spots and feed on algae and microorganisms attracted by algae, you need to control algae to control these insect species.
To prevent algae from growing in your pool, you need to install a filter in your pool and add an algicide (such as chlorine) to your pool once a week. Chlorine tablets are better than liquid chlorine solutions in this regard because they’re slow acting.
This means you only have to replace the tablets every few weeks.
However, if you have a particularly large pool, chlorine tablets might not be enough as they don’t pack as much of a punch as liquid solutions do.
Swimming in chlorine — as long as the amounts are controlled — isn’t dangerous at all (unless you’re particularly allergic).
Apart from using chlorine to clean your pool, make sure to skim it every day. You’ll be getting rid of algae spores that way and prevent them from settling in at any point.
If algae can’t grow in your pool, aquatic bugs can’t live there either.
Are Aquatic Bugs Bad?
Aquatic bugs in pools generally aren’t dangerous and they don’t pose a threat to people. Although they’re capable of biting, this is very rare and the bite isn’t toxic to people. The species with a powerful bite – the giant water bug – isn’t common in pools because they feed on larger prey rather than microorganisms.
They are just a nuisance in the pool and you should get rid of them if possible. But if they’ve infested your pool, you most likely have an algae problem bigger than a water bug problem.
Types of Water Bugs
The term water bug is used to describe way too many species to count but only a few of them are actually common in pools. Here is an explanation of the key differences:
A flat type of insect, water boatmen are herbivores that mostly feed on algae. They’re completely harmless to people and no bites have been reported.
They are normally no larger than 3/8 of an inch, their backs are brown and mottled, and they’re elongated, which makes them easy to recognize.
Aside from swimming, water boatmen are capable of flight but they usually reside in aquatic habitats. They swim with their backs pointing upwards, unlike our next entry, and they propel themselves forwards with their strong hind legs.
Pools, sewage tanks, and birdbaths are their most common habitats. While often found in freshwater environments, they can tolerate pure seawater, so they’re often found alongside coastlines too.
Backswimmers are not as friendly as water boatmen – they’re known to bite people and the bite is described as quite painful. As the name suggests, they swim inverted.
They’re normally no longer than 0.6 inches, and while they’re similar to water boatmen in appearance, they can be discerned by their hind legs (which are fringed for swimming) and their upside-down swimming.
These insects are particularly common in freshwater ponds and pools but they’re capable of living in water with an excess of nutrients near the sea.
Unlike water boatmen, they take down much larger prey. This includes other insects, fish eggs, and small fish, as well as tadpoles. Mosquito larvae are on the menu as well.
If they do live in your pool, they’ll stay near vegetation where they can hide. They usually reside on aquatic plants, which makes it easy for them to observe their surroundings and take down prey.
Giant Water Bugs
Giant water bugs are found in freshwater ponds and marshes but finding one in your pool is unlikely. This is because they feed on large food (for water bug standards), such as small fish, tadpoles, and arthropods.
They can exceed 4.5 inches in size and they’re known to kill prey several times their size. This makes them one of the largest insects in North America, according to the University of Minnesota.
They’re capable fliers and they’re attracted to light, so they could smack into a UV insect zapper if you have one in the yard.
These bugs, despite being called a water bug, aren’t the kind you’ll find in your pool.
These well-known insects are often mistaken for water bugs but they are actually not related to aquatic habitats at all.
They’re most likely to infest cold and damp areas, such as basements, and a cockroach couldn’t survive in a pool because there’s nothing there for them to eat.
They do, however, need water to survive, which is why they’re often found near water.
Verdict: Killing Bugs in Swimming Pools
The case of aquatic bugs in a pool is only a symptom of a bigger issue – algae. To clean bugs out and keep them out for good, you have to physically remove them and then brush away as much algae as possible before treating your pool with chlorine.
If you prevent algae from growing back, the bugs won’t return as they feed on algae and use it for breeding. Water boatmen and backswimmers are the most common aquatic bugs in pools, while cockroaches and giant water bugs aren’t really seen in pools unless they are in desperate need of water.