Learn How to Eliminate Water Bugs In Your Pool – And How To Keep Them Away

updated: January 07, 2022

If you have a swimming pool, you know that you have to deal with waterbugs from time to time – but if you have a big problem, you know that you need to prevent them and eliminate them. Since they can be quite dangerous, you want to eliminate them as soon as possible.

Water Bug
Water bug

What Types of Bugs Can Be In My Pool?

If there are bugs in the air, there is a good chance that there will be bugs in your pool. We aren’t talking about a random bug every so often. Instead, we are talking about a larger amount of bugs that can create problems.

There are four different kinds of water bugs. Most aren’t harmful to humans, but they can also be annoying when they are in your pool: think about them getting in your hair, on your skin, on your children and more. Still, accidentally swallowing one of these bugs can be quite dangerous, so you want to eliminate them:

Backswimmers / Notonectidae

Also known as notonectidae, do exactly what the name suggests. They swim upside down in the water. They are light and build for swimming, meaning they can go into almost any kind of water. They tend to be attracted to brighter areas (hence, why they are often in pools) and can bite. The bite will feel and itch like a mosquito.

Giant waterbug

Also known as belostomatidae, toe biters, or alligator ticks. These are quite visible in the water because they can be almost 12 centimeters long. These are found all throughout the United States, especially in the southeast.

Water scorpion
Water scorpion

Also known as nepidae, are longer, more slender bugs that have forelegs and a tail. They eat fish, tadpoles, and small sea creatures so they tend to be found in natural water bodies, not pools.

Water boatmen

Also known as corixidae, live in slow moving water and ponds and swim under the surface of the water. There are many species of waterbugs – more than 500 have been identified and there are probably many more. They are flat, with dark brown and black marking on their wings. They are quite large, with triangular heads and pincers in their mouths.

How Do You Get Rid Of Waterbugs?

To kill waterbugs, you have to eliminate their way of life: food. Water boatmen and backswimmers, the two most common aquatic bugs, eat algae that typically lives on the sides and bottom of your pool. This is what turns your pool green. To eliminate it, you must shock your pool at least once, if not twice. This means that you need to use quite a bit of shock that will kill the algae. If you live in an area with many water bugs, you may just want to buy shock in bulk. You want to add the shock at night or dusk to prevent the sun from contacting it, which will burn off the chemicals too quickly.

After you shock the pool, you will have to use some elbow grease to scrub down the walls and floors to move any algae that has been growing. Once it gets into the water, the shock will have a better chance of cleaning it. You will want to do this twice. Even if you don’t see the algae, you still want to scrubs the sides. Sometimes they are so small that you don’t see them or the water distorts your view.

Once the algae is gone, the bugs will start to look for somewhere else to go. You can help them out by collecting them and killing them.

How to Keep Water Bugs Away

Once you have cleaned your pool up (or if you don’t have a problem now), you want to keep them away. To do this, you want to ensure you do all of the following:
  • Keep your chemistry levels where they should be for your pool;
  • Skim your pool on a daily basis;
  • Use algaecide;
  • Cover your pool when it isn’t in use;
  • Pay attention to changes in water look or feel;
  • Keep your pool lights off.

At the end of the day, eliminating water bugs can be a harrowing process that requires using chemicals and knowing how to handle these bugs. If you aren’t sure what you are doing, you want to get some help.

image description Comments
May 29, 2020 at 8:31 pm

I found one of these weird back swimmers in my pool and they are so gross!

Jean Tedder
July 13, 2020 at 4:19 pm

Try using a smallish net to catch them. Flip it over as you are bringing the net to the concrete surround. Don’t lift the net until you squish the backswimmer, or it will fly away and maybe come back to your pool! They can be hard to catch unless you wait for them to surface and kinda hang out there. No backswimmer lives more than a minute once i see it!!

peter f.
March 8, 2022 at 10:57 pm

No way!!! Backwaters are nice.

June 11, 2022 at 11:44 am

The giant water bugs are huge and will swim rapidly to attack swimmers!

James Macdonald
February 2, 2020 at 1:04 pm

I have had difficulty in the past eliminating some hardy boatmen, still quite a few remaining after shock and algaecide, what seemed to do the trick was No More Ducks. This chemical reduces the surface tension, not sure why it is actually killing the boatmen (drowning?) but results are pretty quick and all gone by next day

Marshall brennan
July 14, 2020 at 2:00 am

Where do you find that?

Steve Cee
November 16, 2019 at 12:03 pm

The best way to get rid of waterbugs in your pool is to drown them by using a 50% Quat algaecide!

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