How To Get Rid of Water Bugs in Pool, House: How To Kill Waterbugs, Repellent

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | March 28, 2024

Freaking out person wonders how to get rid of water bugs in pool and house and waterbug repellents, as well as how to kill waterbugs in drains, indoor and out and other water bug removal tips.

If you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of water bugs, whether in the house or the pool, or anywhere, the first step is to identify the bug, that way you can determine the best pest control method.

In most scenarios, a “water bug” in your home is really an oriental cockroach, which looks quite similar.4

So, knowing how to kill waterbugs (how to get rid of waterbugs), depends on the specific situation. 

This guide oultines the most common methods used to eliminate water bugs and explains when calling in a professional pest control company is the best option.

Water Bugs in the House: How To Get Rid of Water Bugs Home Remedies

Water bugs are attracted to specific environments.

They like things damp, so any leaky pipes need to be fixed, indoors or out.

Standing water needs to be addressed, such as outdoor containers and other areas where the bugs will thrive. Pools should be properly filtered and treated to keep scum, algae, and bugs at bay.

Evicting water bugs from your premises is possible using things like Gel traps, sticky traps, insecticides, vinegar, baking soda, DE, boric acid, boiling water, and general property maintenance.

Graphic that shows the ways to get rid of water bugs such as sticky traps, contact insecticide, gel baits and baking soda, boric acid mixed with vinegar, and diatomaceous earth.

The options that are best depend on your situation. In a nutshell, get rid of the habitat that has enabled these insects to flourish in your home.

Once you’ve taken away the conditions allowing them to flourish, go after the remaining bugs individually and be diligent about keeping the premises clean. If all else fails, hire an exterminator after carefully vetting local options.

Keep in mind that multiple housing units that don’t have proper maintenance perpetually invite oriental cockroaches or water bugs.

Being adjacent to standing water can be a vector for actual water bugs, which can get 4.5 inches long.

Pest Control for Water Bugs and How to Get Rid of Water Bugs in Drains

There are multiple strategies relating to pest control for water bugs and how to get rid of water bugs in drains. Again, narrow down the sort of pest you’re dealing with.

Cockroaches in your drains won’t do well with Drano. Scientific literature is mixed, but the chemical compound is designed to slowly eat through anything in its path.17

To start the ball rolling, Drano might be an option. You want to clean the drains properly; doing so comprehensively could fix the issue.

As noted earlier, eliminating or purifying standing water can also help. If the water must remain, disinfect it.

Moving Water

If you have landscaping including organic ponds on your premises, ensure there’s no water vector from your home to the pond; this could be used as access to your premises. Another option might be mixing baking soda with white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, leaving that in the drain for 24 hours, then flushing the drain with boiling water.18

If drains are clogged, you need to fix the clog and clean the drain. If that doesn’t work, plug the drain when it’s not in use and contact a plumber; there may be a blockage only such pros can address.

If you still aren’t able to fix the problem, it may be time to contact an exterminator.

The Giant Waterbug, Water Bug, Waterbug, or Oriental Cockroach

(Lethocerus Americanus or Blatta Orientalis Linnaeus)

Image of a water bug on top of a rack in an oval frame with green background.
  • Description: Insects 1 to 3 inches long, called alligator ticks, or a water-friendly cockroach
  • Natural Habitat: Slow-moving or stagnant water worldwide, moist rot or decomposition
  • Locations: These insects are native everywhere but Antarctica, presently.

Image Credit: GlacierNPS21

Water Bugs in Pool Areas: What Does a Water Bug Look Like?

One of the things that prompts people to wonder how to get rid of water bugs is water bugs in pool areas. However, there are lots of bugs that may decide to use your pool.

So first things first: what does a water bug look like? It’s not those long-legged creatures that float atop water; those are called “water striders”.5

Waterbugs aren’t mosquito larvae; they’re not tadpoles. They look like cockroaches with huge like biceps and really strong.6

Small ones are about an inch long; big ones can be as long as your hand, sometimes reaching as much as 4.5 inches. Other than that, their description is basically that of an oriental cockroach without any antennae.
If you find a water bug in a pool, it will usually be somewhere near the bottom.

They are nicknamed “toe-biters” owing to their massive mandibles and where they hide underwater.3

They tend to be near the bottom, and if you step on one, you’ll know. If you’ve got one in the pool, it may bite you, though this is admittedly rare; water bugs aren’t traditionally antagonistic to people.

Photo of water bugs in pool.

(Image: Maria Tsegelnik20)

Cockroaches also bite, but not as painfully or frequently. They just prefer damp spaces.

Also, cockroaches won’t have a “V” marking down their back, whereas a true water bug will.

Where Do Water Bugs Come From? What Kills Water Bugs Instantly? (How to Get Rid of Water Bugs)

Now that you know what water bugs look like, the next question is: where do water bugs come from?

And, if you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of water bugs, you might wonder what doesn’t just kill them, but what kills water bugs instantly?

If you’ve seen a water bug indoors, it’s more likely it entered on its own than that you have an infestation. Still, it may lay eggs and move on, which can lead to infestation, so if you notice one, you want to get rid of it.2

Most water bugs are actually cockroaches, and cockroach infestations spread fast. Plus, these insects carry substantial disease.7

They come from sewers, compactor rooms, basements, mulch, shrubs, or other areas where waste that won’t be disturbed by larger predators multiplies. Classic water bugs lay eggs on foliage adjacent to the water where they live; this is a big reason that if you see one in your house, it’s more likely to be a cockroach.

Unless you’ve got standing water linked to your home nearby, they’re unlikely to make their way into your house. Apartments tend to have them more often than well-maintained private residences.8

A few ways to get rid of them include:

  • Sticky Traps
  • Contact Insecticide
  • Gel baits and baking soda
  • Boric acid mixed with sugar
  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) to Dehydrate Them to Death9

Giant Water Bug Issues: Waterbug Repellent and More

Giant water bug issues are more common in temperate climates.1 Waterbug repellent can be useful; this section considers which repellent options to explore and more.10

A man in protective gear holding an insect or waterbug repellent pointed towards the camera.

(Image: cottonbro studio19)

Mostly, if you’ve got water bugs, you’ve got roaches. Palmetto bugs are cockroaches.11

Before you get into chemical solutions, try a few natural steps. For example:

  • Deep Clean the House: Every Nook and Cranny
  • Repair any leaks or broken pipes that could produce standing water.
  • Look Outside: Is Your Garden Clean? Does it have standing water? Fix That.

If there’s an infestation that requires a more in-depth solution, boric acid mixed with sugar in small quantities is relatively safe for pets and children.

Put it where they are most observable, mixed with sugar or other “bait”.12 Diatomaceous earth (DE) is something else to use; again, mix it with bait like sugar.

Baking soda can also work, as, like DE, it dehydrates these insects. If all organic solutions fail, then consider options like insecticide, sticky traps, and gel baits—by the way, gel baits can be one of the best solutions here.13,14

If you’re dealing with actual giant water bugs, you need to go after their habitat; they’ll likely be in areas where there’s water. Commonly, they’ll find their way to pools that aren’t properly chlorinated and have been stagnant during the cold months.

These bugs feed on tadpoles and small insects.15 What you need to do is clean the premises and ensure proper chemicals maintain that cleanliness.16

When To Call the Exterminator for Water Bugs

You need to know when to call the exterminator for water bugs. Here are common scenarios where the question of how to get rid of water bugs is best left to the pros:

  • Massive infestations demand professional solutions.
  • In corporate, small business, or other liability situations, pros may be needed.
  • If you have a substantial allergy to these insects, call an exterminator.
  • If the infestation is somewhere dangerous you can’t get to, call an exterminator.
  • When You’re Not Near the Property, Pros May Be the Only Option
  • If all the methods you explore fail to correct the issue, contact exterminators.

If you’re in a position where you need professional assistance, choose carefully. Read all the online reviews.

Ask friends and family who may have worked with a given local exterminator. Compare the prices and methods of multiple exterminators.

Examine your budget to see if you can afford natural options or if you’ll have to explore chemical alternatives. Call multiple exterminators, make a “pros and cons” list, and then choose the option with the most relevant “pros” near you.

Also keep in mind that oriental cockroaches may invade, rather than infest, your home.

While it will help to know how to get rid of water bugs, being diligent about keeping things clean and dry will ensure prospective invaders have nowhere to nest.


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15Graham, M. (2023, June 14). 4 Types of Water Bugs That Appear in Pools And What To Do About Them. BOBVILA. Retrieved November 11, 2023, from <>

16Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). Pool Chemical Safety. CDC. Retrieved November 11, 2023, from <>

17Williamson, C. (2023, July 25). Can Drano Eliminate Cockroaches? Unraveling the Truth Behind a Common Myth. BEDBUGS. Retrieved November 11, 2023, from <>

18GOODBEE PLUMBING. (2022, April 11). How To Stop Bugs from Coming Up the Drain. GOODBEEPLUMBINGANDDRAINS. Retrieved November 11, 2023, from <>

19Water Bugs in Pool Photo by Maria Tsegelnik. Resized and Changed Format. Pexels. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <>

20Waterbug Repellant Photo by cottonbro studio. Resized and Changed Format. Pexels. Retrieved January 4, 2024 from <>

21Giant Water Bug or “Toe Biter” Photo by GlacierNPS / Public Domain. Cropped, Resized, Changed Format. flickr. Retrieved February 13, 2024, from <>