Water bugs in pool


Water bugs in pool

 What are water bugs?

There are two common types of water bugs that you’ll probably find in your pool, and rest assured—they are not roaches!

  • Water boatmen: Water boatmen are slim, oval bugs with oar-like back legs that they swim with. Their food sources are all the gross stuff you try to keep out of your pool like algae and mosquito larvae.
  • Backswimmers: These bugs swim on their backs (hence the name) and have longer legs than water boatmen, but they are still oar-like. These usually skim the surface of the water in long strides and feed off of other insects, like water boatmen. Backswimmers, unlike water boatmen, will bite you if handled.

How to get rid of water bugs in 6 steps

I know you’re probably thinking, “I don’t care what they are. I just want them gone!”

I get it! So, let’s get rid of them!

The best way to get rid of any pest is to remove its food source.

So, what do we know?

We know that water boatmen eat algae and backswimmers eat the water boatmen. So, making sure your pool is algae-free will go a long way towards controlling the insect population!

1. Skim the pool

Since most of these bugs hang out around the surface, you should be able to skim most of them off with a net skimmer.

2. Brush the pool

Making sure they don’t have food supply to come back for is key, so scrub down the surface of your pool to remove any pesky algae spores that may be hanging out, ready to bloom.

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3. Vacuum the pool

Now that you have brushed off algae and debris from the sides of the pool, use the vacuum to gather up anything loose.

4. Shock the pool

Use a quality pool shock such as calcium hypochlorite to completely kill anything left after cleaning up the pool.

5. Balance pool chemistry

Wait about 24 hours after shock chlorination.

Then use your pool chemistry test kit to make sure all your pool’s pH level, chlorine level, and alkalinity levels are in balance.

6. Vacuum the pool again

This step isn’t mandatory, but I like to take a little bit of extra precaution if I’ve experienced a bug or algae problem.

It’s just to make absolutely sure that there is nothing left for the bugs to feed on in case the chlorine shock killed off something you didn’t remove in the first few steps.

How to keep water bugs out of your pool in 7 steps

Obviously, it would be better if you never had to deal with the little pests in the first place, right?

To discourage them from visiting, you need to keep your pool maintained and make sure you never have anything for them to eat.

Here are a few tips to keep them away:

1. Maintain proper chemistry levels

Maintaining proper chemistry levels is the number one thing you can do to discourage algae growth, thereby eliminating the food source of pesky water bugs. Proper levels should be:

  • pH: 7.4 – 7.6
  • 1.0 – 3.0 ppm
  • Total alkalinity. 80 – 140 ppm

2. Skim your pool daily

It doesn’t take long to use your pool skimmer net and remove debris from the surface of your pool every day.

This helps continually remove algae spores that may have entered your pool and keep them from sticking to the surface and blooming and helps keep your pool clean.

3. Use a liquid dish detergent

Dish soap and water in a spray bottle make an excellent natural bug repellant and it works great for killing water bugs, as it changes the surface tension of the water so the bugs can’t float on the water.

You can use this spray directly on water bugs to kill them and you can also spray a little around the perimeter of your pool to prevent them. But this way, if they do land in your pool, it will kill them and they can then be skimmed out.

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4. Use algaecide

Algaecide is a good idea anyway as there are more reasons to get rid of it than just keeping the bugs away.

5. Cover your pool

Use a pool cover whenever your pool is not in use.

This will help keep everything out, including algae and bugs that try to sneak in while you sleep.

6. Maintain your pool pump

If you notice your pool seems a little murkier than usual, or you’re having trouble keeping the chemistry balance, your problem could be the pump.

Clean your filters regularly and check the pump for buildup or mechanical problems.

7. Turn off your pool lights

Just like your porch lights, those lights under your pool water are inviting insects to come to take a plunge.

Bottom line

Water bugs are a pretty common annoyance among pool owners, but if you keep your pool as clean as possible and skim it daily, you should be able to control the population.

Keep your pool chemistry in balance and follow our tips.

It could keep your pool bug-free for the rest of the year!

Water bug repellent

The name waterbug has several different applications. There are several types of true waterbugs including backswimmers and giant water bugs but cockroaches are also frequently referred to as waterbugs. Because true water bugs are typically found in natural aquatic environments like ponds, streams and rivers it is more likely that you will encounter waterbugs of the cockroach variety in your home. If you do, there are many ways to kill them or deter them from entering your home again.

Aquatic Insects

The Nepomorpha infraorder of insects includes true waterbugs, those which are aquatic insects. Some insects belonging to this group are giant waterbugs, water scorpions, water boatmen, creeping water bugs and backswimmers. To kill and repel true water bugs, add a few teaspoons of liquid detergent to the water in your pool or pond. This will break the surface tension on which water bugs rely to move and when they come in contact with the soap, it will also kill them. Keep your pool or pond filter clean and algae-free to prevent waterbugs from finding food sources and from using the filter as a place to lay eggs.

Traps and Baits

Baits and traps are effective in killing existing cockroach waterbugs in your house and keeping infestations from happening in the future. Glue traps are commonly used in homes to catch a handful of stray waterbugs but larger populations may require a bait trap. Bait traps typically involve the use of bait laced with a slow-acting insecticide. When the waterbugs carry the bait back to the colony it will effectively kill large numbers of the insects. Place bait traps on the floor near baseboards in your home, under counters and beneath appliances.

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Homemade Waterbug Repellent

Boric acid is a common household product that can be used to kill and repel the cockroach waterbugs. Sprinkle powdered boric acid in indoor areas where waterbugs are likely to be found such as near cracks and crevices and under and around appliances. When the insects come into contact with the boric acid the material will stick to the bug’s legs and antennae. When the insect cleans itself, the boric acid will be ingested and it will paralyze the waterbug. Once paralyzed, the waterbugs will die. Boric acid can also be used outdoors to repel true water bugs from entering your pool or pond. Simply sprinkle the acid around the border of the water in a thin layer.

Plants and Herbs

Certain aromatic herbs and plants can be an easy and effective way to repel cockroach waterbugs. Sprinkle some mint or catnip leaves under your counters and appliances to ward off waterbugs or mash garlic and add water to create a spray to coat surfaces near which waterbugs are often found. Bay leaves and cucumber peels can also be sprinkled around your home to repel insects. Keep in mind that, over time, these materials will dry out and lose their efficacy so they should be replaced about once a week.

Keep it Clean

One of the most basic and effective methods of keeping cockroach waterbugs out of your home is to keep it clean. Keep food items in tightly-sealed storage containers and put them away in a cupboard or pantry rather than on the counter. Clean up spills promptly and do not allow garbage and empty cardboard or plastic containers to accumulate in your home.

To prevent true waterbugs from inhabiting water sources such as an outdoor pool or pond, chlorinate the water and keep it free of algae. Treat the water with an algaecide once a month to kill any eggs waterbugs might deposit.


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