If you have water bugs in your home, you shouldn’t hire a pest control company to get rid of them. Instead, do it on your own; it’s not complicated. How? Read on to find out!
Cockroaches are commonly referred to as “water bugs” by many people. However, this term is technically reserved for the peridomestic roaches that are more at home in the outdoors. You must get rid of these pests as soon as you detect an infestation since they can contaminate your food and cause health concerns for you and your family.
Photo by Ryan Hodnett
Water bugs are simple. They can go by with just two things: a steady supply of water & a stable source of food.
Even though most water bugs are not considered pests and rarely cause health issues, having them about the house is nonetheless unsettling. Water bugs are widespread, frighteningly giant water insects that frequently seek refuge in garden ponds or swimming pools, although they rarely enter homes. “Water bug,” on the other hand, is an American colloquialism for one of the numerous species of the infamous cockroaches that are completely unrelated to the more fascinating and infamous true water bug.
When attempting to eradicate ‘water bugs’ from your home, you are most likely trying to eliminate roaches, as household water bugs are much more likely to be Oriental Cockroaches. You can use a number of organic compounds such as Boric Acid, Baking Soda, and Diatomaceous Earth; however, these methods are usually slow. To eliminate water bugs instantly, you must resort to chemical insecticides.
That said, there is much more to getting rid of roaches and water bugs than just spraying them with an insecticide powder or spray. Read on to find out.
What Are Water Bugs?
Giant Water Bugs are members of the order Hemiptera, true bugs, the largest true bug in the US.
When most homeowners talk about a “water bug,” they are actually using a subtle colloquialism for an insect that makes most people uncomfortable just by saying its name: the cockroach. Cockroaches that come standard in our homes have gained the term “water bugs” due to their propensity to congregate close to water sources.
This preference makes perfect sense when one considers that cockroaches can go an entire month without eating, yet they can’t go more than a week without drinking water.
There are, however, true water bugs, which are insects that dwell in or on water. These “true water bugs” include creatures from the suborder Nepomorpha, some of which can reach lengths of about 5 inches. So be thankful that when you switch on the light in the kitchen, you don’t notice a few of those scurrying around under the refrigerator!
Cockroaches Vs. Water Bugs
Finding a cockroach or cockroach-like insect in your house is never a comforting experience, and finding anything large enough to scurry across your floor is downright unsettling. And although it might look like a cockroach, the bug might actually be a water bug instead.
Even while water bugs and roaches share a lot of similarities in appearance, these two pests are actually quite different. Here is how you can identify them:
If they feel threatened, water bugs will bite anyone who comes near them. They are scary creatures. Cockroaches, on the other hand, are generally shy creatures that run away from strong lights and other species. They also do not bite.
Food & Feeding
Cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers who consume virtually anything they can get their hands on. They will eat whatever scraps are lying around. However, water bugs are carnivores that seek their prey and then inject it with poison to render it defenseless.
Cockroaches and water bugs can survive in water, but cockroaches are more at home on dry land. Whereas water bugs thrive best in environments that are warm and humid, and they spend the most of their lives in or near bodies of water.
Cockroaches usually are smaller than water bugs. For instance, on average, cockroaches can grow to be between one and one and a half inches long, whereas adult water bugs, on average, can grow to be about three to four inches long.
True water bugs are not considered to be pests because they do not significantly affect humans. Cockroaches, on the other hand, are considered true pests and, due to the numerous health hazards they pose, should be eliminated from household premises.
A cockroach’s head is usually hidden by a structure called the pronotum, which has “bulging eyes” and chewing mouthparts. Furthermore, cockroaches are dark brown or shiny black in color. Water bugs, in contrast, are often a brownish gray in color and have huge pinchers in front of their mouths which cockroaches do not have.
How Do I Know If I Have A Water Bug Problem?
Algae in the pool water or on the pump fixtures is a sure sign that water bugs have taken up residence in your pool.
The terms “true waterbug” and “water bug” are both generic terms that can be used to refer to any of the following species of insects that reside in or around water:
- Creeping water bugs (Naucoridae)
- Backswimmers (Notonectidae)
- True Water Bugs (Nepomorpha)
- Giant water bugs (Belostomatidae)
Early intervention is always the key to efficiently reducing insect infestations, which holds true no matter the bug. Therefore, if you are aware of the typical symptoms of a pest infestation, it will be easier for you to recognize the issue at the earliest.
Additionally, knowing their origin is essential in preventing bug infestations. The following is a list of some of the most frequent indicators of a water bug infestation, which will assist you in locating the bugs and getting efficiently rid of them.
Since they thrive best in wet and humid environments, water bugs enjoy making their homes in still bodies of water. So if you have put off fixing leaky pipes for a while, there is a good chance that true water bugs have taken up residence inside them.
Most of the time, water bugs would rather be outside in the open air. Still, an inadequate ventilation system creates a humid and moist environment inside the homes, which water bugs find appealing, and in such instances, they might move in.
Egg casings and droppings are common traces left behind by water bugs wherever they exist. Therefore, water bugs may be present if you see discarded black shells and pellets around your house, in the kitchen,or near the bathroom.
Be on the lookout for algae and other debris in your pool. Algae in the pool water or on the pump fixtures is a sure sign that water bugs are present. Algae is a staple food for most water bugs; if they can get their fill, they will stick around.
How To Get Rid Of Water Bugs?
When it comes to getting rid of water bugs, there are several different chemical treatments that can be used.
For the sake of this section of the article, we will be concentrating on the true water bug, which is defined as an insect that lives in or around water.
Remove Any Dead Plants From Your Property (How to get rid of water bugs)
First of all, make sure that any vegetation that is dead or decaying is removed from your home, and don’t let any debris from leaves accumulate.
Use Bug Baits (How to get rid of water bugs)
You should place bug baits where you notice bugs scurrying out, such as behind your refrigerator or close to cracks and fissures. However, if you have small children or animals in the house, you need to exercise caution when using this method.
Nevertheless, setting up deadly bait traps can assist in eliminating the “water bugs” prowling around your property to protect your home.
Avoid Using Bug Bombs (How to get rid of water bugs)
According to our experts, this method is typically ineffective on true water bugs and, as a matter of fact, many bugs. Also, the chemicals in question can be toxic.
Get Rid Of Junk (How to get rid of water bugs)
It is helpful to clean up spaces like your garage, cellar, or attic, which are places where clutter tends to collect. You could also try to eliminate potential food sources by removing dirty dishes from the sink and keeping waste in sealed containers.
Use Natural Water Bug Repellent (How to get rid of water bugs)
Vinegar is widely utilized around the world due to its natural ability to ward off insects. However, it’s potent enough to prevent a water bug infestation too. To make a vinegar spray, pour concentrated vinegar into a spray bottle. Then, spray it all over the impacted area, targeting the water bugs and the nesting locations they use.
Use Water Bug Repellent Spray (How to get rid of water bugs)
Sprays designed to deter insects work by masking the smells that would otherwise attract the insects. This is why water bugs tend to move away from treated regions in quest of better conditions. So, all things considered, a water insect repellent is a great option when it becomes impossible to destroy all the water bugs.
Natural Compounds To Get Rid Of Water Bugs
You can use baking soda to kill water bugs by pouring it on the insects or near their nests.
You can also give the things you have lying around the house a shot at eliminating water bugs if you want to. Baking soda, alcohol, and detergents are some examples of these. Use any of these liquids to kill water bugs by pouring them on the insects or their nests.
The liquid form of dishwashing soap is a common item used to combat pests. The water bugs are killed by the soap because it erodes their protective skin, which ultimately leads to their death. So, spray the water bugs and their nests with a mixture of a few drops of liquid detergent in a spray bottle and then fill the rest of the container with water.
Spray the water bugs and their nests with a mixture made by rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle and then diluting it with water. Water bugs are killed in two ways by alcohol.
First, it is a dehydrating agent, which, when put on insects, causes them to become extremely dehydrated. Second, it works as a solvent, which means it can dissolve the water bug’s outer shell, ultimately resulting in the water bug’s death.
Baking soda is commonly employed as a pesticide because of its ability to absorb moisture and fully dehydrate insects after they have walked through it.
For many years, people have recognized the effectiveness of peppermint oil as an insect killer and repellent.
Essential oils like peppermint, lemongrass, and cedarwood are some of the most popular choices for repelling insects. It is very interesting how these oils affect bugs.
Insects, in general, are quite sensitive to dry air. So, when these oils come into contact with the skin of water bugs, it causes the wax that is found on the skin to dry out. As a result, the water bugs become dried out and eventually die.
Water Bug Baits
Traps or baits specifically designed to catch water bugs are an easy way to eradicate an entire colony. However, when keeping the bait inside the house, it is important to remove all other sources of food, including pet food, to ensure that the lure is the sole thing the water bugs have to eat. After coming into contact with a bait that has attractants, a bug will bring it back to its nest. There, it will cause the death of many water bugs.
The use of synthetic insecticides is yet another effective method for eliminating water bugs. Depending on the application, they can be applied as a spray or taken in powder form.
Boric acid is another highly effective pest control chemical that can eliminate water bugs from your home. This product most commonly comes in the form of a powder that can be sprinkled about in places where there is a high activity level of water bugs.
Also, ensure to sprinkle a thin coating of boric acid powder on the surface; most water bugs will avoid powder piled high. When water bugs consume boric acid, the compounds in the acid travel through their digestive tract and eventually kill them.
The “Other” Water Bugs?
Oriental cockroaches, which are known as water bugs, prefer to make their homes near water.
For the purpose of this section of the article, the term “water bug” refers to cockroaches that are attracted to moist environments and can frequently be found in residential settings. Oriental cockroaches are the most typical “water bugs,”; however American cockroaches and Smoky brown roaches sometimes go by this name.
Why Do I Have Water Bugs?
Cockroaches, which are sometimes also known as palmetto bugs, typically prefer to reside outside; however, much to the displeasure of people everywhere, they are drawn to wet inside spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms. Cockroaches, like other pesky insects, are typically drawn to homes for the same reasons: There is a good amount of food inside, and the environment is favorable for them to live in. The attraction for roaches is a suitable breeding environment, such as a dark, damp basement or crawl space.
Large colonies of Oriental cockroaches have been discovered in garbage chutes and dark, damp spots where they may hide and find moisture. This is especially true in crawl spaces and basements with leaks that have not been fixed.
And, if you spot one inside eating, chances are good that more are hidden in the area.
Oriental cockroaches, sometimes commonly referred to as water bugs, can invade homes through a variety of entry points, including the following:
- Being transported on food shipments to the area
- Arriving here with washing that was done at the laundromat
- Squeezing through the crack in the doorway
- Using the vents as a climbing route
- Pipes afflicted with scaling
It is sometimes possible to identify the cockroach type depending on the place where they were found. For instance, cockroaches of the American variety like it warm, whereas their Oriental counterparts prefer cooler temperatures.
Signs Of Water Bugs In Your Home
While you are searching for signs of activity from Oriental cockroaches, keep the following in mind: The presence of moisture is what attracts Oriental cockroaches. They can go for extended periods of time without eating as long as they have access to water.
And when it comes to diet, they will eat almost everything; however, they have a preference for starchy foods. So if you locate these bugs in your kitchen, you should first search for leaks and evaluate the food you have kept in your pantry.
If you have a significant problem with Oriental cockroaches in your home, likely, you will actually see the insects inside your property. They have a very rapid rate of reproduction. There is a wide range of possible ages for adult females, from 25 to 190 days.
They will lay an average of eight egg casings during this time, but they have been known to produce as many as 20 egg cases. Each egg casing will have an average of 15 roach larvae inside of it. Furthermore, remember that if you discover water bugs inside, you are most likely dealing with Oriental cockroaches. You may also see the following:
- The appearance of black insects in and around the house
- A damp, musty odor
- Shells of bug eggs that are lying around your home
How To Get Rid Of Water Bugs (Roaches)?
Boric acid is an effective natural cure used in the home to get rid of roaches overnight.
The good news is that a few essential extermination tactics can help you in your quest for a permanent solution to the problem of water bugs, i.e., roaches.
Make Sure It Is A Roach
Before you start unleashing weapons of mass destruction against insects, you should make sure that your enemy is indeed a member of the roach family first.
To determine whether or not you are coping with a case of mistaken identity, you should conduct a quick search for “cockroach” and “palmetto bug” both on the internet and in the insect database maintained by your state university.
Monitor With Sticky Traps
Traps should be placed in high-traffic areas where roaches have been seen and should be replaced when they lose their stick, regardless of whether or not you have caught anything. The presence of an egg case means that cockroaches could return at any time, even if you haven’t seen any for a while. Sticky traps should be used to observe roach activity because the incubation period for some species can be up to 800 days.
Employ Roach Baits
There’s a good chance you know exactly where the cockroaches are congregating right now, which makes your task a lot simpler. Roach infestations are a serious concern, but fortunately, deploying bait stations to eradicate them is a simple process.
Gel baits can also be purchased and applied like caulk to cracks where roaches have been found to go. The combination of gel baits and bait stations is highly efficient, even against the most resistant roach species, such as the German cockroach.
You should also remove potential food sources before applying these baits to damp areas like the kitchen, bathroom, and other similar rooms.
Dry The Place Out
Cockroaches thrive in too humid environments, have leaky drains and faucets, and constantly drip. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that you dry up these places/things since wetness like this is terrible for your home and can also be quite enticing to roaches.
So, fix any dripping drains, and think about installing a dehumidifier in damp basements or other sections of the house that are prone to moisture buildup, such as laundry rooms.
Eliminate Roach Hiding Places
Cockroaches not only like hiding in dark locations but also prefer it when those spots are damp. Therefore, cockroaches are most likely to be found behind cabinets, beneath sinks, in areas surrounding water heaters, and outside vegetation close to your home.
In order to prevent cockroaches from congregating in any area, you should trim the shrubs away from the home and glue and otherwise block any entrance points to that area.
Eliminate Food Sources
Even though the pests didn’t want to occupy your home, that doesn’t mean they won’t devour anything they discover once they’re there. In fact, they likely will.
So, maintain pet food in airtight containers, clear up any food remnants after meals, and wipe down counters and any other surface that could potentially collect grease.
Also, make sure that the garbage can is either securely covered. Cockroaches will have a harder time surviving indoors when less food is available for them to consume.
Shot Off Their Entry Points
Finding out where they came from is the most crucial thing you can do. Because both types of “water bugs” end up in people’s houses by accident most of the time. Inspect the area under the home and in the basement for any broken pipes or drainage lines that may connect to a place where cockroaches can gain access.
Insects may enter a building through flaws in the foundation or insufficient weatherstripping. Put screens over your drains and fix any other holes or openings on the exterior of your home as soon as possible to prevent pests from entering.
Use Chemical Insecticides
When it comes to getting rid of cockroaches, there are several different chemical treatments that can be used. Cockroach bait is an excellent place to start for many homeowners who want to try their hand at chemical pest management on their own, if necessary.
If you have a significant cockroach problem in your house and you do not believe that baiting will be sufficient to eradicate it. It is possible that it is time to bring in a qualified professional who specializes in pest management. Also, find a reputable business that deals in integrated pest management and make sure they have a license.
Last, But Not Least
After an infestation of water bugs has been effectively treated, you can’t just stop. You need to take the following precautions to avoid more infestations in the future.
- Get the dishes washed and the restrooms scrubbed.
- Food should not be left out for the night.
- Get rid of any food scraps or other trash by vacuuming the floors and rugs.
- Every day, take the garbage cans outside.
- Maintain adequate circulation throughout your home, particularly in moist regions.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why do you get water bugs?
Water bugs are drawn to wet and damp areas, and they are particularly interested in stale food and waste. However, water bugs can also be found in garbage and old food.
To put it another way, the presence of water bugs in your home should signal that you aren’t performing necessary housekeeping duties.
What smell keeps water bugs away?
The aroma of many essential oils, particularly peppermint oil, is repulsive to the many bugs, including water bugs. So, mix a few drops of citronella essential oil with some water. And then put the solution into a spray bottle and spray around your home. Peppermint oil is yet another choice for a natural pesticide that is risk-free and effective.
Are water bugs and roaches the same thing?
The water bug is a type of insect that, despite its cockroach-like appearance. Is not actually a member of the family of roaches. As its name suggests, a true water bug is an insect found in aquatic environments and lives there. And unlike cockroaches, water bugs can go for extended periods of time without coming to the surface for air.
What is the fastest way to get rid of water bugs?
The quickest and most efficient way to treat a water bug infestation may be to sprinkle boric acid on the affected area. Boric acid’s active components are toxic to the digestive system, killing water bugs inside out. So, if you’ve noticed water bugs in your basement, under your sinks, or elsewhere. Just sprinkle a light coating of borax or boric acid.
Where do water bugs nest?
Whenever possible, water bugs will choose to nest in dark and cool regions. So, check the areas around the home’s windows, doors, and outside pipes for possible entry points.
Examine the concrete walls and flooring for flaws. Look for the nest after nightfall, when the bugs will be more active if you can’t seem to locate it otherwise.
Sources for Further Reading
Giant Water Bug | Department of Entomology. The University of Minnesota. (2022). Retrieved 19 October 2022, from https://entomology.umn.edu/giant-water-bug
Oriental Cockroaches. College of Agricultural Sciences. The Pennsylvania State University. (2022). Retrieved 19 October 2022, from https://extension.psu.edu/oriental-cockroaches
Water Bugs: Engaging Students in Environmental Assessment and Stewardship – Duke University Superfund Research Center. (2018). Retrieved 19 October 2022, from https://sites.nicholas.duke.edu/superfund/water-bugs-engaging-students-in-environmental-assessment-and-stewardship/
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