How to get rid of waterbugs?

Water bugs gather around water sources like many other bugs, these little critters are easily attracted to food left in the open.
Often confused for cockroaches and palmetto bugs, water bugs are aquatic insects that are completely different from other insects.

‘Water bug’ is an umbrella term. It covers many different bugs that live near water and don’t have gills but carry oxygen in the form of air bubbles locked inside their skin. There are over 1500 different species of water bugs.

Water bugs vs. cockroaches

Water bugs are commonly misidentified as roaches, although water bugs and roaches look similar there is some major differences:

 Water Bug
Distinct features
Found near a water source
Often found in groups
Normally 4 inches
Normally 1-2 inches
1 - 4 YearsApprox. Year
YesVery rarely

What attracts Water Bugs?

Water Bug frontWater bugs favor hot and humid conditions. They are attracted to fresh water and food sources. They can bite and spread diseases in humans. To discourage them from entering your home and breeding nearby, clean your house and cut off their food supply.

Leaving food in the open can also attract nearby water bugs. They like sweet and starchy food. Avoid leaving leftovers in the open if you want to avoid water bugs.
Although water bugs are not fond of decaying organic matter, they can eat anything when they can’t find their favorite food source. So expect them to see near bins and trash if you have a messy house.

How to get rid of WaterBugs?

Below are some steps you can to take to get rid of water bugs from your property:

Clean your houseClose all entry pointsBug RepellentsCall Exterminator

The first step to get rid of water bugs is to clean your house. Look around your property and see if there are any standing water sources. If you leave food outside for pets, make sure that you leave only enough food that your pets can finish.

Denying water and food can discourage water bugs. Clean the inside of your house, remove any food particles gathered in the corners. Clear all the bins and replace open bins with tight-fitting-lid bins.
Don’t forget to clean the area under and around the bin as you may drop small food particles when throwing away trash.

Be sure to clean your kitchen thoroughly. Do it once every month to keep away cockroaches and water bugs. Be sure to pay special attention to areas where breadcrumbs and other tiny food particles can go unseen such as sides of the toaster and the oven.

Seal all entries to discourage water bugs from entering your property. Water bugs are larger than cockroaches and therefore easier to stop. You can use some sealant material to close any holes in the walls from where water bugs and cockroaches can enter your house.

If you notice gaps in the insulation, be sure to close them properly. Doors and windows can also allow these bugs to creep in.

When you can’t get rid of water bugs by simply refusing them food and water, it’s time to take a step further and use commercial repellents.
A simple water bug repellent can be made using water and boric acid. The mixture can be used as a spray in areas where you have seen water bugs. You may have to repeat this process every few days since repellents lose their effectiveness after a few days.

If the number of water bugs is large and your DIY repellent isn’t showing results, you may have to use a special repellent. These repellents contain chemicals and poison that can kill water bugs and destroy their eggs – causing their lifecycle to stop. However, you have to be extremely careful when using such repellents as they are not child or pet-friendly.

If nothing above has helped so far, you may have to call an insect terminator. The experts will identify the exact species of water bugs that have made a home near your property. They will then identify their breeding location and eliminate their eggs and larva.

Insect termination professional may require you to clear the property from pets and children before they start operations. Depending on the nature of infestation and type of bugs, an exterminator may have to use more than one method to solve your problem.

Home remedies for waterbugs

In less severe cases, one of the easiest ways to get rid of water bugs is to use simple home remedies.
Before you implement a home remedy, it’s important to note that not all home remedies work. Although some methods we’ve heard being circulated are effective there are others don’t make any sense.
Below, you can explore home remedies that work.

Elimination Methods for Water Bugs

1. Boric acid

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How it works
Boric acid is one of the best ways to get rid of water bugs. It can help you fight even the worse infestations.
When water bugs come in contact with boric acid, it attaches to their legs and antenna. Bugs will ingest the acid that will eventually kill them.
Boric acid can burn down the bugs. Also, it will also destroy the water bug eggs and larva. You can easily find boric acid at your nearest bug store.


  • Boric acid powder
  • Water

1. Make a solution of water and boric acid
2. Identify the infested areas
3. Sprinkle a thin layer of the solution near the target area
4. Don’t create dumps of powder when applying as bugs can easily avoid it

2. Baking Powder

Baking powder has been used to kill bugs and insects for centuries. You can use this remedy not only to eliminate water bugs, but it can also help you get rid of cockroaches and bed bugs.
When bugs come in contact with the baking powder mixture, it will attach to their legs and wings. Over time, desiccation will occur and insects will dry-out. Eventually, they will die, and you won’t have any bugs in your home to worry about.


  • Baking powder
  • Equal quantity of powdered sugar

  1. Mix baking powder and powdered sugar
  2. Locate the area with bug infestation
  3. Now sprinkle the mixture all over the infested area to get rid of water bugs and their eggs

3. Alcohol

Alcohol is extremely effective against water bugs and other insects as it dries out the skin and kills bugs. Alcohol can also dry out eggs and clear the area from any infestation in the future.


  •  Alcohol
  • Water
  • Spray bottle

Image of 91 Isopropyl rubbing alcohol bed bugs

1. Pour alcohol into a spray bottle
2. Add water to dilute the solution
3. Locate the affected area
4. Spray the solution using spray bottle all over the area
5. Be sure to spray anywhere you suspect bugs or their eggs
6. Let the alcohol dry out the area for a while
7. Repeat for a few times to kill all bugs and eggs
8. Clean the area

Non-effective Repelling Methods for Water Bugs

1. Vinegar

Vinegar spray is another useful repellent home remedy to get rid of water bugs. Vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties that repel water bugs and other insects. It also clears area from any bacteria and fungi, reducing the opportunity for bugs to spread.


  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle

1. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar
2. Find areas where bugs roam and breed
3. spray vinegar all over the infested surface
4. spray on the entry points to your property such as the entrance door
5. Leave it on the surface to dry

2. Peppermint

Peppermint has a strong smell that bugs hate. They run away from this scent. However, it doesn’t kill water bugs, and they can easily avoid sprayed areas.


  • Peppermint oil
  • Water
  • Spray bottle

1. Add a few drops of peppermint oil to spray bottle
2. Fill it up with water
3. Shake it well so that oil mixes with water and the solution has an even smell
4. Now spray the liquid anywhere you suspect water bugs to pass
5. Repeat this once a week as the smell wears off after a few days

3. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves can also be used as a bug repellent. However, it’s not very effective as bugs can easily go around the leaves and enter your home using an alternative route.


  • Bay leaves – as many as needed depending on the size of infested area

1. Find the areas where waterbugs pass to enter your home
2. Spread bay leaves all over the ground so that water bugs won’t find a way around the leaves
3. Find water sources where bugs might drink and spread leaves over water surface to repel bugs.

4. Catnip Leaves

Catnip leaves have a strong repelling smell that works great against water bugs. Instead of spreading these leaves, you can make a solution and use a sprayer to spread the solution for better results.


  • Dried catnip leaves
  • Water
  • Spray bottle

1. Boil water
2. Add catnip leaves to boiling water
3. Let the liquid simmer for 10 minutes
4. Strain the liquid and add it to a spray bottle
5. Spray it where you have seen water bugs
6. You may also want to spray this liquid on areas where you suspect bugs to pass through

 Non-Home Remedies for getting rid of Water Bugs

1. Water bug baits

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A Waterbug or Cockroach bait is an effective product to get rid of water bugs. These baits are easily available at local pest control stores.
The bait tricks the bug into thinking of it as food. It eats the bait and takes the rest back to its nest. Other bugs also eat the bait and die from the poison.

1. Identify the areas infested with water bugs
2. Place multiple baits near the area
3. Wait for a few days for bugs to die from the poison

2. Insect Spray

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When bugs infestation has gotten out of control, an easier way to eliminate them is by using insect spray. It’s most effective when you spray it directly on the bugs to kill them. These sprays contain insecticides that will kill water bugs on contact.
You can also find repellent sprays on the market. These sprays repel bugs but don’t kill them. They often contain ingredients used in home remedies such as vinegar and boric acid.

1. Open the spray bottle
2. Point the spray nozzle towards bugs
3. Spray at will

3. Pesticides

When every tool in your arsenal fails to control water bugs, you may have to use pesticides as your only solution. Pesticides usually work by targeted the nervous system of a bug.
There are over 300 registered products that fall under pesticides. Pesticides have seven different classes, based on the chemicals used in their formula.
Common pesticides include pyrethroids, pyrethrins, pyrroles, biochemicals, and neonicotinoids.

Future Preventions

To prevent a future bug infestation, it’s important to take certain preventive measures. Some simple steps you can take are below.

  • Clean your house and remove all food scraps regularly
  • Never leave uncovered food in the open
  • Cover standing water sources
  • Fix water leaks
  • Keep garbage out of sight and covered
  • Use tight-lid bins
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the kitchen overnight
  • Use preventive home remedies every once in a while to fend off any potential infestations

Wrapping up – How to Get rid of Waterbugs

Unlike bed bug bites, Water bugs are dangerous for humans as they can bite and spread disease. If you have spotted an infestation in your home, it’s important to take action immediately. The good news is that you can use various home remedies to eliminate and repel them (although some simply don’t work).

Boric acid is the most effective strategy against these bugs. If the infestation gets out of control, you can use chemical products or call professional help.