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4 Ways to Get Rid of Water Bugs in Pool Water

4 Ways to Get Rid of Water Bugs in Pool Water
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One of the most important things about your pool is to keep it swimmable and keep the pool water clean. If you can’t do these things, you won’t want to use the pool and neither will your friends. Finding water bugs in pool water is no reason to panic; however, you will want to get rid of water bugs.

To keep your pool free of water bugs, you must first understand where they come from and why they are there. We have you covered! If you are done with pool bug infestations, let’s look at how you can identify and then get rid of water bugs for good.

What Is a Water Bug?

A water bug is an insect that can swim in your pool. The water bugs look very much like a cockroach, but they are not. They have unique characteristics that make them good swimmers and good predators in the water. The food source for these water bugs will vary depending on if they are waterboatman or backswimmers.

Types of Water Bugs

There are two types of water bugs that you can find in your pool at any given time. The way that you eventually learn to remove these bugs will be impacted by the type that you have. It’s a smart idea to properly identify the bugs before working on removing them from the water. The two main types are the water boatmen and backswimmers. Let’s look at some of the basic differences and characteristics of these two bugs.

Water Boatmen

The origin of the name of the water boatmen is its elongated body. You will see that the body is a long oval type shape that makes them look like boats. This buoyant shape helps them be very good at swimming as well. In addition, the water boatmen can fly.

The water boatmen’s back legs look a bit like an oar, and they use them to paddle around the water. The water boatman has a dark top side and a lighter bottom side. This is a survival mechanism for them when they are in the water and looking for food to eat.

As far as food is concerned, this bug will enjoy any algae that you have in the pool, along with mosquito larvae. This is not a dangerous bug, and it will not bite humans; however, you won’t want to be swimming with them the next time you are in the water.


As we mentioned, the water boatmen is really a harmless and easy-going bug. However, the backswimmer has a completely different role in your swimming pools. These bugs are a bit rough when it comes to their treatment of other bugs, especially the water boatmen.

A backswimmer has three sets of legs, and the legs are used to help them eat and survive. They will need all three to catch their prey and still keep afloat in the process. The food supply for these rough and tumble bugs are minnows, tadpoles, and even water boatmen.

Just as the water boatmen got its name from looking a bit like a boat, the backswimmer gets its name for swimming on its bag. This is an upside-down swimmer, and it has the opposite coloring of the water boatman.

When you find backswimmers in your pool, make sure you keep an eye out for their bites. If you try to mess with these guys, they are known to bite, and the bite can be painful.

Although the backswimmer and the water boatmen are bugs themselves, they do a great job of getting rid of other bugs in pool water. However, if you want to get rid of water bugs, you can keep on reading for our helpful tips.

Why Do I Have Water Bugs in My Pool?

The fact that you have water bugs in your pool is typically not a good thing. When your pool water and chemistry are perfectly balanced, water bugs will have no desire to enter your pool. However, when there are issues with the water and the bugs see it as a potential place to get food, they will take advantage of the opportunity.

Most of the time, this has to do with the fact that there is algae in the pool. If your pool has algae in it, you will very likely start seeing more bugs. Most of the time, water boatmen and backswimmers would rather be in a pond or lake with darker water and more food supply.

However, if your pool has stagnant water and starts getting a bit of bacteria, it is going to start attracting these creatures. Water bugs in pool water need to be treated for several reasons.

Why Are Waterbugs Bad For Your Pool?

There are two reasons that waterbugs are bad for your pool; the first is that they are a sign that there is something wrong with your pool water chemistry. In a clear, clean, and chemically balanced pool, you will not see these pesky critters around. However, as soon as the water chemistry changes and it is identified as a food source, you will have a water bug problem. Algae growth is harmful to swimmers, and it is a major factor in proper pool maintenance.

The second reason that water bugs are bad for your pool is that they are going to lay their eggs if you don’t remove them. Once this happens, you will have a pool full of insects. This problem cant get so bad that you will have lots of work ahead of you to get your pool back to being swimmable.

We aren’t saying you won’t have to share your pool with the occasional bug, but if they lay eggs, you will have to ask the bugs to share the pool with you. This is a problem that pool owners are not going to be able to ignore.

How to Get Rid of Waterbugs

The waterbug removal process can differ depending on the type of infestation you have and the pool you have. The best way to remove water bugs from your pool may not be the same as another pool. Let’s take a look at these effective ways so that you can choose one to get your pool back to normal today.

Skimming the Pool

The first instinct of most people that see water bugs or any type of bug in their pool is to skim the surface. The problem with this is that these bugs can also fly. So you will remove them from the pool, but they won’t stay away. In order to keep the bugs out of your swimming pool, you need to remove the food source.

Skimming the pool to remove water bugs is a simple, quick solution, but it is likely not going to be enough for you to keep the bugs away.

Shock and Clean

The most effective way of returning your pool to the original state is to shock and clean it. Remember that water boatman feed on algae. If you have chemistry levels in your pool that are not ideal, they will stick around and keep feeding on the algae in your pool.

Here are the basic steps to shock and clean the pool to get rid of water bugs.

1. Vacuum & Brush

You must vacuum and brush the pool first to start getting any of the algae and bacteria off of the walls and steps of the pool. Once you have the pool relatively clean, you can then move to the next step.

2. Check Pool Chemistry

Get a baseline for your pool chemistry. If you want to keep your pool clean long-term, you will need to understand why the chlorine levels are off and what is causing the issues.

3. Shock Pool

Next, you must shock your pool. The shock will kill any algae in your pool and make sure that the bugs have nothing left to feed on. Always shock your pool at night so that the sun does not burn off the shock prior to it effectively getting your pool clean.

4. Check Chemistry

Once you have used chlorine shock in the pool, you should check the water again and see if the algae problem is starting to disappear. Chances are you may still see water bugs in your pool, this is understandable, and we will get to that in a minute.

5. Vacuum and Brush as Needed

Continue to vacuum, brush and shock your pool again if the algae is still an issue in the pool. As we mentioned, you are very likely still going to see bugs in your pool even when you are finished with the shock. This is because these bugs can live for several weeks without any food. So even if you get rid of the algae, you will have to get rid of the bugs.

Liquid Dish Soap

Liquid dish soap is a great method to use in combination with the shock and clean. Your chlorine level should be good, and your pool should have already had some preventative measures to get rid of algae prior to starting the dish soap method.

When you use the dish soap method, you are going to want to put and 1/8 cup of dish detergent for every 10,000 gallons of water into your pool. The idea behind this dish detergent is that it makes it impossible for the water bugs to breathe, and it will kill them.

Put the dish detergent in the middle of the pool and let it stay for a day or two. The detergent will not do any harm to your pool, yet it does wonders to keep these bugs. After a day or so, you can skim the pool and clean the filter, and you should see many dead water boatman and backswimmers. As long as you don’t have more algae growing in the pool, you should be done with these insects for the time being.

Oil Method

The oil method is similar to the dish detergent method. You can do the same thing and place the oil in your pool; however, we don’t recommend doing this. Oil is going to kill the bugs and keep them away from the pool for good.

Most pool owners will skim the pool and then place the water bugs in the bucket of water filled with oil overnight. Simply put a lid on the bucket and make sure that there is a layer of oil on top of the water.

Although the oil method is effective, it will not be quite as easy as the liquid dish soap method. You will have a lot more manual catching of bugs with the oil method, and that is enough t make it a less convenient solution for most people.

Regardless of the method or combination of methods you use on the water bugs, it is important to pay attention to your water so that the insects stay away for good.

Waterbug Prevention Tips

Now that you have worked so hard to get the water bugs out of your pool, you will want them to stay out for good. This is entirely understandable. Luckily, you should be able to have some control over this.

Pool Chemistry

Always keep your pool chemistry balanced. The cleaner and clearer your pool water is, the less appetizing it is to a water bug. If you can keep the water clean, you can keep the bugs away. Check your pool chemistry at least twice per week so that you can get a jump start on any potential issues.

Frequent Skimming

It’s a good idea to skim the pool often. The skimming keeps insects off the top layer of the pool. Some of these insects are the ones that bugs like backswimmers will feed on. Do yourself a favor and try to keep the top layer of the pool as clean as possible. Many times these top layer issues will float to the bottom and leave you more to vacuum anyway. It pays to clean them off when you can.

Pool Cover

Putting a pool cover on your pool can help to keep bugs out. You won’t need to completely cover with a winter cover each night; something like a solar cover will do the trick. Simply pull the solar cover on when you are done with the pool for the day. It will hold in any water temperature that you accumulated, and it will keep bugs out at the same time.

Turn off Pool Lights

Bugs can’t always find the insects that are considered their food source if your pool is very dark. When it is light, they will have an easy time seeing the prey and dive into your pool for a swim. This is unfortunate because of how great pool lights can look, but sometimes just shortening the run time on the pool lights can be enough to keep the boatmen and backswimmers from stopping over for a swim.


If you find that you have a hard time controlling the algae issues in your pool, an algaecide is a great choice to consider using. Algaecide will keep the chances of growing algae quite low, and it will allow you to spend a bit less time working on keeping your pool bacteria-free.

Consistent Pool Filter Run Time

Insects love it when pool water is stagnant. If you don’t run your pool filter enough, you can expect to have issues with bugs. Keep the filter running consistently, and you will find that you have no issues with these bugs. They won’t be able to properly feed on other insects and algae if they are being pushed around the pool by your filtration system. Keep water moving, and it will keep the bugs away.

Water Bugs in Pool FAQ

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about water bugs in pool water. Remember, this is not a reason to panic; instead, you must work toward a solution to get your pool water back to normal.

Where Do Water Bugs Come From?

Water bugs are likely hanging around in local freshwater bodies of water. They like stagnant water that has algae and bacteria for them to feed off of. If their food source in one area starts to run a bit low, they will most likely come to your pool looking for the best way to get more food.

What Does a Water Bug Look Like?

A water bug is an oval-shaped bug that looks almost exactly like a swimming cockroach. When you look closely at the water bug, you will see some differences between it and the cockroach, yet the look is still similar.

Do Water Bugs Fly?

Yes, water bugs can also fly. This is partly what makes them so difficult to get rid of. When you try to skim the pool to remove the bugs, they can simply fly away. This is why the best way to get rid of water bugs likely will involve several steps.

What Do Water Bugs Eat?

Water boatmen eat algae, and backswimmers are going to feed on the water boatmen. You will find that since the boatmen feed on algae, you must work on preventing them first. Once they are out of your pool, you should have no trouble removing the backswimmers from the water.

Do Water Bugs Bite?

Water bugs typically do not bite humans, but they can happen. The backswimmers are going to be the ones to look out for. If they bite you, it will feel a bit like a bee sting. You will want to watch the bug bite to make sure that it doesn’t swell up too much, showing signs of an allergic reaction.

How Painful Is a Water Bug Bite?

A water bug bite is rather painful. Remember, it is only the backswimmers that can get you, and you can imagine that it will feel a bit like a bee sting. You will want to try to avoid this happening by removing the water bug issue before it gets out of hand.

What Happens if a Water Bug Bites You?

If a water bug bites you, you may develop a small cut where the bite was. Typically the bite will swell like a mosquito bite for a few minutes, and then it will go back to normal. If you notice an infection starting where the water bug bite is, you may want to have it looked at by a doctor. Remember that these bugs feed off algae and bacteria, and there is a good chance it was not all that clean when it bit you.

What Kills Water Bugs Instantly?

The dish detergent and oil are going to kill the water bugs instantly. This is the best way to get rid of them long-term and make sure you keep your pool swimmable all season.

Recap- No More Water Bug Infestation

After reading our tips and advice, you should be ready to move on with your summer pool season completely bug and insect-free. Remember that insects are an important part of our ecosystem. When they land in your pool, it is not really their fault. Our responsibility as pool owners is to keep the pool clear of pool algae and bacteria, and that will keep the bugs away. Don’t make your pool appealing, and you will never have a run-in with water bugs in your swimming pool.