How to Get Rid of Waterbugs?

  • Water bugs can be seen as pretty harmless. They’re not considered pests like cockroaches (whom they physically resemble a little bit). However, water bugs are predators that can bite. They’ll rarely do it to humans, but their infestation could be harmful to our pets. 
  • Is there any effective treatment to eliminate waterbugs? Boric acid, powder, insecticide, vinegar, deep cleaning, baits, professional chemical treatment—these are only some ways to deal with water bugs in your house. 
  • In this article, we discover methods of how to get rid of waterbugs infestation from your house.

What are water bugs?

Officially, water bugs are called Blatta Orientalis or true waterbug (true bug order Hemiptera, infraorder Nepomorpha). 

They are also known as “electric light bugs” because they are attracted to electric lights. 

Among them, there is also a Belostomatidae, known as a giant water bug. This species can exceed 4.5 in!

Water bugs—often mistaken for cockroaches (we’ll get to it)—are aquatic species. 

Their preference for humid habitat and love for debris are reasons we may come across these oval-shaped insects in our households. 

Waterbugs are tan to black with a yellowish figure-eight pattern on the back of their heads. 

Waterbugs vs. cockroaches

Although true water bugs resemble cockroaches, water bugs aren’t part of the roach family. Water bugs aren’t considered pests, and roaches are.

There are several differences between a roach and a waterbug:

  1. size

An average waterbug (2-4 inches long) is from 1 to 3.25 inches longer than any cockroach (.075-3).

  1. body

When it comes to physical differences in these insects, cockroaches have:

  • flat, oval bodies,
  • long antennae, 
  • spine-covered legs that look hairy, 
  • downward-facing heads, and 
  • no wings;

While water bugs have:

  • short antennae, 
  • clawed front feet, 
  • a pointed, short beak, and 
  • piercing mouth,
  • wings;

  1. habitat

The difference in environmental preferences between these insects is pretty apparent:

A cockroach is a highly-adaptable land-dwelling pest with a preference for warm, dark enclosed spaces. Roaches come indoors to escape the cold of winter. They shy away from any light. Some species can survive in water, but they prefer to be on land.

The water bug fancies moist and dark areas near freshwater ponds and lakes. This insect is commonly seen flying around lights during mating season. Water bugs prefer to spend their time in the water. These insects can hold their breath for a long time.

If waterbugs like staying around lakes and ponds, why would a water bug suddenly inhabit my home?—you may ask. 

Waterbugs love damp, moist areas, as well as old food and garbage. 

Consider getting rid of these “waterbug magnets” from your house if you’ve recently started to see these insects around.

  1. group behavior,

This one is an interesting point to make and requires some observation.

Cockroaches enjoy being together; they are the natural extroverts among insects. 

Water bugs, on the contrary, are relatively solitary; the mating season is the only exception from their lonesome lifestyle. 

  1. diet,

Both of these roaches can be scavengers. 

While cockroaches will mainly feed on food, garbage, and rotting debris, water bugs are predatory and will prefer to hunt smaller creatures. 

What does it mean that water bugs are hunters? They paralyze their prey with their proboscis. Then, they inject a powerful liquefying enzyme, which allows them to suck out the prey’s insides.

Waterbugs will also eat algae and garbage.

  1. health,

An American cockroach and waterbug differ in how they can influence human health. 

Cockroaches can spread human diseases and trigger allergies and asthma. 

Water bugs can spread contaminants which can, in turn, cause diarrhea and food poisoning in humans. 

  1. temperament,

We discussed their group preferences, but what about the personality of an American cockroach and his cousin, waterbug?

The former is a somewhat shy creature that scampers away from bright lights. 

Roaches don’t bite people and run away from them instead. 

Water bugs will bite, causing much pain if they feel threatened. 

Fortunately, their bites aren’t, in most cases, dangerous to humans.

  1. pest control;

Pest is the second name of cockroaches—they hide skillfully, come in plenty and bring severe various health concerns to humans.

It’s not the same with waterbugs. These creatures are not considered pests. They prefer to feed on other insects, not humans.

Get rid of waterbugs—introduction

With all the characteristics of a water bug, can it happen that you come across this insect wandering into your home at night?

Yes, especially if you live near water and leave your porch light on.

It’s not that water bugs want to get inside your home specifically—they’re just trying to be where the moisture is.

Water bugs that make their way into people’s homes generally do so completely by accident.

We imagine that you’re not really into keeping these insects at home neither. 

What should you do? Is keeping your house clean enough to get rid of water bugs?

How to get rid of waterbugs?

There are several ways to keep water bugs away from your home:

  1. Prevention

The best thing to do to avoid problems with waterbugs is to keep them away from your household. 

Identify and get rid of the areas in your house with standing water, clean behind furniture, and disinfect your kitchen and bathrooms—all in all, deep clean your house as well as you can. 

It’s also a good idea to seal any cracks or holes in your home’s exterior with caulk, so these insects have fewer entry points. Also, fix leaky pipes and faucets. 

From now on, no food left on the kitchen counter! Instead, keep your food stored in airtight containers and prevent water bugs from being attracted to your home.

Tip: These preventative steps will help stop more waterbugs from invading your property if you’re already dealing with these insects.

  1. Vinegar

Make a DIY vinegar spray by mixing one part vinegar and one part water.

Pour the solution into a spray bottle and use it twice a day to spray areas where you’ve seen water bugs.

  1. Essential oils

Just like every other insect, (read our other blogs on dealing with pests: “Does Rubbing Alcohol Kill Bed Bugs?,” “Does Baking Soda Kill Bed Bugs?,” and “How To Get Rid Of Carpenter Bees WD40?”) water bugs hate the smell of essential oils.

So how to get rid of waterbugs? 

Mix a few drops of citronella essential oil with water. Then, pour the solution into a spray bottle. 

You can also take peppermint oil—it’s a safe, natural pesticide as well. 

Spray areas where you’ve seen water bugs. Don’t forget to spray all sinks and tub drains around your home.

  1. Borax or boric acid

Dramatic as it sounds, the natural borax elements will destroy a water bug’s digestive tract, killing them from the inside out. 

All you have to do is sprinkle a thin dusting of borax or boric acid powder in your basement, under sinks, and in other areas where you’ve seen water bugs. 

Important: Boric acid and borax can be toxic if ingested, so ensure you’re keeping them away from food prep areas, children, and pets.

  1. Algaecide

Use an algaecide in your pool to eliminate the food supply for water bugs. Use pool-shocking chemicals and the algaecide. 

Remember to follow the instructions on the packet and vacuum the pool with a pool vacuum cleaner. 

You can repeat this process as often as necessary.

  1. Diatomaceous earth

Another one of the handy treatments to get rid of waterbugs is sprinkling food-grade diatomaceous earth.

This substance can be used in the home and around your garden. 

It’s an effective insecticide that directly impacts the water bug’s outer shell by destroying its protective covering.

  1. Alcohol

Some people think alcohol with work for everything. 

And here we are dealing with water bugs with…A DIY alcohol solution.

Here’s what to expect:

Alcohol will dry out water bugs and the moist environment they hide in. 

Dilute a cup of alcohol with water. Then, pour the solution into a spray bottle. 

Target areas where you’ve seen water bugs frequent.

  1. Traps

To stop infestations from spreading and manage waterbugs’ pest control well, try the ultimate solution: traps. 

Set traps to stop these insects from getting further into your house in case they manage to pass through entry points. 

There are plenty of chemical roach-bait traps you can try.

Put the baits all around the outside of your apartment (near windows and doors). 

Important: Be careful if you have pets. You don’t want them to get near the traps accidentally.

  1. Contact pest control services

If you don’t feel like dealing with this serious problem all by yourself, reach out to pest control services. 

Call in a professional exterminator to discover how to get rid of waterbugs and eliminate the problem to the core.

You’ll be asked to choose between natural and chemical methods to eradicate the water bug infestation, hopefully, once for good.

After these interventions, you can be relatively sure that waterbugs in your house are dead, and—another key reason for getting pest control services—you’ll educate yourself on preventive measure related to these infestations. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Water bugs approach humans rarely and not willingly. However, it was observed a couple of times that waterbugs crawled onto people's beds at night. The reason for their interest in our beds is the sweat and skin cells that collect in the sheets. Also, although water bugs can bite people, they'll do it only if provoked or if their habitat is disturbed. Common symptoms of a water bug bite include itching, pulsating pain, red bumps, mild burning sensation.
Belostomatidae, from a family of the largest insects in Hemiptera, are typically found in freshwater streams and ponds. A bite of a representative of this species can cause intense, excruciating pain and paralysis in the bodies of vertebrates because of its toxic saliva. They can go after ducks, fish, snakes, and even turtles.  They'll often bite between the toes of unsuspecting human feet. This explains one of their common names: toe-biter. Their bite is considered one of the most painful that can be inflicted by an insect. Their large size and voracious predatory appetite make them one of the few important insect predators of vertebrate animals.
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