Skip to Content

How to Get Rid of Water Bugs. The Best Ways Possible

This article may contain affiliate links. We get paid a small commission from your purchases. More Affiliate Policy

When referring to water bugs, readers will imagine bugs of various shapes and sizes, some as tiny as gnats and others 4 inches (12 cm) long. 

Water bugs include the giant water bugs (Lethocerus americanus), which can eat small fish; the water scorpion (Nepa cinerea) is also carnivorous; and the harmless water striders (Veliidae). Though generally considered harmless, there are ways of getting rid of waterbugs if they bother you. 

Table of Contents

Types of Water Bugs

In addition to the water bugs mentioned above, you may need to contend with cockroaches, often referred to as water bugs, because of their love of standing water.

Other insects that thrive in or near water include the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), also known as palmetto bugs, and the water boatman (Corixidae), of the Hemiptera order (true water bugs). The Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis) is another common water bug pest. 

Oriental Cockroaches (Blatta orientalis)

Cockroaches thrive in cool, moist areas like under porches, sewers, drains, crawl spaces, dark, damp basements, and floor drains. 

Outside, cockroaches tend to populate places like old cisterns and water valve pits, damp leaves, bark mulch surrounding plants, flowers, foundations, garbage dumps, stone walls, crawl spaces, and trash dumps and chutes.

Health Risks Caused by Cockroaches

Cockroaches will eat anything from garbage to rotting fruit to other insects. Trash and the contents of empty cans are some of their favorite foods. They can survive for a month without food if they have access to water.

Cockroaches are high risk because they are pathogen carriers, living and feeding in sewers and infesting anything they touch. Cockroaches can cause food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, and gastroenteritis.

Many people are allergic to the allergens found in cockroach feces and cast skins, causing sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and other allergy symptoms.

Cockroaches emit a pungent smell that can alter the taste of food. These secretions cause a distinct stench in the area with a serious infestation. 

Managing Water Bug Infestations (Cockroaches)

Scoping Infestations

Regular inspections are key to preventing a water bug infestation, finding cockroach nests and identifying activity.  Setting sticky traps will help, but do it in different likely spots.

The best locations for water bug traps are against walls or in floor corners. By adding bait (decomposing food), you can lure cockroaches to the trap. Leave the traps in place for a week to establish the extent of your water bug infestation.

If you find leaky pipes, fix them before you try to kill waterbugs.

Limiting Water Bugs’ Access

The first phase of removing waterbugs is to change the indoor environment by removing lures like food, water, and cockroaches’ hiding places. 

To limit cockroaches’ access, caulk around the sink, refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine and pantry. Also, caulk cupboards in the kitchen and bathrooms and all possible entry points. To get rid of waterbugs, establish how they’re getting in from outside, and block these entry points. 

Roaches come from their hiding places in basements and cinder block walls via plumbing or squeezing under doors or windows. Caulking and screening could effectively seal off the building’s perimeter and prevent outdoor roaches from entering.

Killing Water Bugs

Water bug infestation areas can be treated with dust, such as boric acid, diatomaceous earth, and silica aerogel. These materials are hygroscopic, and their efficacy depends on dryness, so keep dusting away from any moist areas. 

Excessive dust applications repel cockroaches, so limit application if you want to kill water bugs. Dust should not be left where it can be ingested by children or pets and should not be breathed in.

There is no benefit to using residual sprays or aerosol foggers to kill waterbugs. These cause cockroaches to spread further, making control more difficult and time-consuming.

Poisoned bait inside is the most effective way to kill bugs. Leave baits with the active ingredient fipronil, sulfluramid, hydramethylnon, or abamectin at places where cockroaches are known to hide. It is important to use caution and adhere to all directions on the label.

Toxic pesticides pose a serious health risk. Remember that labels are directives (not suggestions), and include important information on how to use the product safely. Keep out of the reach of children, pets, and livestock, and store them in their original, properly labeled containers. Dispose of empty containers immediately and responsibly. 

The Giant Water Bug ( Lethocerus americanus)

This true water bug can grow between two and three inches long and is a huge predatory insect. With such a massive frame, it can confidently claim to be among North America’s largest insects. They are often mistaken for a cockroach species. 

What do They Eat? 

This water bug is a predatory aquatic insect that lives in still or very slow-moving water. Anything within reach of their raptorial legs is fair game, including snails, small frogs, and little fish.

Where They Live

Like other life forms, aquatic insects are drawn by mates, food, water, and safety. As their name suggests, water bugs depend on bodies of water such as lakes, ponds, stagnant standing water, and swimming pools for survival.

These actual water bugs lurk in the underbrush, raptorial legs spread, heads lowered, and respiratory siphons protruding from the water, waiting for unsuspecting prey to swim by. 

During the summer and spring, these insects congregate around large electric lights, making docks, parking lots, and ballparks prime locations to spot huge water bugs. 

They are attracted to both heat and light. The water bugs that dive-bomb you during a night game are likely attracted to the stadium’s lights. If they’re gnats flying in your face, you might be interested in my article (Why Are Fungus Gnats Attracted to Me? Know the Facts!)

Eliminate damp areas to reduce infestations. 

The Significance of Giant Water Bugs

The populations of invertebrates and vertebrates in ponds and lakes are kept low by giant water bugs. Without giant water bugs, minnows and snails may overpopulate ponds, lakes and dams. 

Natural Products That Get Rid of Waterbugs

Essential Oils

Several home remedies can be used to get rid of waterbugs. Essential oils, especially peppermint oil, have strong scents that repel insects. Mix a teaspoon of peppermint oil with a cup of hot water in a spray bottle to make an effective bug spray.  

This will deter but not eliminate water bugs, but spraying the essential oils along crevices, cracks, and windowsills can deter outdoor roaches from entering your home. It’s not pest control, but it works.

Use a thin layer of powdered sugar on windowsills to spot tracks and inspect windows regularly. Sugar is a low-risk option to spot creepy-crawly activity. You’ll need to reapply the essential oil every few days because of how quickly it wears off.

Boric Acid (or Borax)

Borax is toxic to human beings and cockroaches and should be handled with care. To get rid of waterbugs, dust them lightly around the cracks and crevices you’ve discovered water bugs use to enter your home.

But keep in mind that borax is also harmful to kids and pets. Ensure your kids and dogs can’t access the area where you’ve sprinkled it. Borax is an effective way of dealing with a water bug problem.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

The diatomaceous earth comes from natural subsurface deposits of petrified diatoms, and aquatic microorganisms found globally. It has numerous applications, including its use in pest control.

Its efficacy as pest control is upon contact, not ingestion. The product scrapes the insect’s outer body, compromising its oils and fats and causing them to dehydrate. The fine cuts cause the bug to dry up, killing water bugs.

DE is effective as pest control for soft-bodied pests, including water bugs. The huge, hard-shelled potato beetle or Japanese beetle is less affected. DE is often used to control slug infestations.

Because diatomaceous earth works to dry insects up, it is most effective in dry environments. Regular fresh applications are required in damp areas, though research shows that diatomaceous earth is ineffective in damp areas and humid environments.

Getting Rid of Water Bugs from Your Property Completely

It’s impossible to create a bug-free environment, and inadvisable too. It may be 99 percent possible to keep water bugs out of your house, but fully eliminating them will affect the ecosystem negatively.

Consider it a success if you have no infestation, which refers to subjective numbers, not presence. As long as you realize that complete elimination is impossible, you’ll never be disappointed. 

Use the remedies mentioned, don’t leave food out, and ensure that your bins have tight-fitting lids to help prevent water bugs from proliferating in your home.

How to Get Rid of Water Bugs From Outside Your Home

Because of their resilience to wind, rain, sunshine, and temperature changes, pesticides and diatomaceous earth are the most effective strategies for use in the outside environment. When subjected to such conditions, the other approaches swiftly deteriorate.

It’s recommended that you employ both for optimal performance. Before applying the diatomaceous earth, spray the perimeter of the house with the insecticide and let it dry. It’s like giving the water bugs an in-your-face one-two boxing punch to stop them from entering your home.

How to Get Rid of Water Bugs From Your Pool

Insects that thrive in stagnant water may likely make your pool their new home. Use an algaecide to stop algae growth in your pool, which pool water bugs enjoy snacking on. Also. improve ventilation in the pump housing for another effective remedy.

How to Get Rid of Water Bugs from Your Garbage Bins

Your outside trash cans provide a breeding habitat for the insects that water bugs feed on, providing a food source for the bugs. Obtaining cans with secure lids are the simplest and easiest step to take. If you can prevent the entry of the insects on which they feed, you can also prevent the entry of the water bugs.

The second step is to spray a pesticide around the garbage cans, paying special attention to the area where the lid meets the rim. After it dries, it won’t harm humans, but it will keep pests out of your trash for up to 30 days.

In Closing

Most water bugs are not harmful to humans but can pose health risks. If in doubt, get a pest control professional to deal with the problem. 

There are all kinds of advice for home remedies, including liquid detergent and baking soda, but these are often ineffective in managing water bugs.

If you found this article helpful and would like me to send you our newsletter to help you simplify gardening, add your email to the list.