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Water Bug vs. Cockroach

water bug vs cockroach

Water bugs are often called roaches and vice versa. Some species of these insects are similar in appearance and therefore often mistaken for each other. In fact, they are quite different. Water bugs prefer to live in your swimming pool while cockroaches are common insects in your house.

Do they bite and spread diseases? What control methods to use for their elimination? Before we answer your questions, you’d better think how to identify them. When you know what type of insect you have on your property, you know what effective treatment to apply. Remember, control methods differ for each of these guys. Read and find out how to identify roaches and water bugs and what methods you can use to eliminate them.

Useful Information to Differentiate Cockroaches and Water Bugs: Terminology, Life Cycle and Food Habits

Bugs differenceWhat is a difference between water bug and roach? Those who find water bugs or cockroaches in or around their homes might feel it’s essential to know exactly what bugs they are dealing with. Usually these nasty little guys can be mistaken for each other.

So, how to identify water bugs that look like cockroaches? Although water bugs and nasty little cockroaches look similar, there are certain differences that set them apart. Knowing their terminology, habitat, diet, biting habits etc. will help you to determine which type of crawler you are dealing with.


Cockroaches terminologyCockroaches: there are nearly 4,000 species of these creatures worldwide. Among different species of cockroaches there are such ones as American cockroach, Florida wooden cockroach, the Brown cockroach, the German cockroach, the Asian cockroach etc. These insects can live an average of 2 to 4 years.

Water bugs terminologyWater bugs: Is water bug a roach? In fact, water bugs are known as a species of cockroach, commonly called black beetles or oriental cockroaches.

What is a water bug? Water bug is actually a broad term used to refer to different kinds of little bugs. The most common ones are the giant water bug, electric light bug, brown water bug and toe biter. Being members of the order Hemiptera, they have mouth parts that pierce and suck.
There are about 1500 species of water bugs worldwide. Some of them live on fresh water and some on the surface of the water. They are oval in shape, have a set of antenna and six legs.

Water bugs are more solitary insects but may congregate at the time of breeding season. When it comes to cockroaches these nasty guys prefer to be surrounded by other roaches at all times.
Both cockroaches and water bugs have parental care.

Difference:  While water bugs are predatory scavengers, cockroaches are not predators and usually referred as non-aggressive insects. Water bugs are identified by much larger sheer size than a typical cockroach.

Appearance of insects and danger of bites

Cockroache sizeCockroaches: The size of these non-aggressive insects varies from species to species. German roaches are about a half-itch long, while the size of American cockroach can be up to 2 inches long. These insects don’t bite people but can be a nuisance when invading homes.

There are over 150 articulated segments in cockroach’s antennae.

Water bugs appearanceWater bugs: These bugs in contrast to cockroaches can bite people and their bites are really painful. As far as their mouth parts are designed to suck fluids, water bugs inject digestive juice into the body and extract liquefied tissue. Some water bugs like backswimmer and eastern toe-biter can attack your bare feet underwater.

Difference: Water bugs are bigger in size than indoor cockroaches. Roaches are known as non-aggressive insects that don’t bite humans while water bugs are known to bite and attack people. However, they do bite only when humans invade their environment.

Have you noticed a white cockroach? Why is it white? Find out what these insects are and why they could be dangerous for you.


Cockroaches habitatsCockroaches: Known as land insects, they prefer dark, slightly-wider-than-their-bodies vertical areas. Kitchen, bathroom are their favorite places in the building.

These little guys prefer warm temperatures and don’t tolerate cold temperatures. You can find them indoors in crawl spaces, basements, crack and crevices and outdoors where they can move during warm weather.

Water bugs habitatsWater bugs: Known as aquatic or amphibious, these little bugs spend most time of their life in freshwater.  Usually they look for moist and dark areas to hide and breed. If your property has places with standing water or leaky pipes, water bugs will surely find them.

Usually, water bugs are commonly found in America giving their preference to humid, hot climates. You can often find them in rotting wood, leaking faucets or hiding in leaves where they enjoy a wet environment. Although they swim well, these bugs are unable to breath underwater. That is why, they often return to surface to capture the air.

Difference: Although cockroaches are really adaptable and can live in different places, they are not aquatic like water bugs are.


Cockroaches foodsCockroaches: They can eat a large variety of materials such as leather, bakery products, glue, flakes of dried skin, plant materials, dead animals, fermented foods. They can even feed upon wounded or dead cockroaches of their own or other species.

Water bugs: They prefer to hunt and kill insects like tadpoles, minnows and small fish. These little bugs also like sweet-tasting food like some syrup, things made of starch and algae which people may have on the bottom of their swimming pools. Black water bug known as Oriental cockroach can feed off garbage and decaying matter.

Avoid leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen area.
Why? This attracts cockroaches. Don’t leave pet food out in dishes. To prevent attracting roaches keep it sealed in an airtight box.
Clean underneath and behind refrigerators, stoves, sinks etc., empty the trash regularly to prevent roaches in the kitchen.

Difference: Diet is what differentiates these 2 bugs. Cockroaches as distinct from water bugs can eat any available food source including fermented food and decaying.

Life cycle

Cockroach life cycleCockroaches: Before becoming adults, roaches undergo egg and nymphal stages. These insects can be divided into oviparous and ovoviviparous.

Eggs produced by oviparous roaches are enclosed in egg cases known as ootheca. This case is attached to female abdomen.

When it comes to ovoviviparous roaches’ reproduction, the eggs – produced by this type of roaches – are enclosed in ootheca inside the female’s body.

An average lifespan of 1 cockroach is around one year.

The number of eggs produced by female cockroach as well as the time it takes for eggs to hatch varies from species to species.

Water bugs: There are 3 stages in water bugs’ life cycle – the egg, the larvae and the adult phases. About 600 days is the total length of time during these 3 phases. Female water bugs lay small, hardy and oval eggs about 1 week after their reproduction.

With the second stage these insects will undergo several periods to accommodate rapid growth. At this time water bugs don’t develop wings but are already considered as predators.

Adulthood is the third and the last stage of their life cycle at which these creatures develop the ability to fly. Having around 19 body segments, males are bigger in lengths than females which have 13-or 14 body segments.

Difference: cockroaches lay their eggs in ootheca – an egg case – which may be left somewhere in a nook or carried with the roach, while water bugs, in most cases, lay eggs on floating vegetation or in debris.

Do cockroaches poop and how to clean their droppings? Interested? Find out the answers here.

How to determine if you have water bugs or cockroaches

Knowing what kind of insects you are dealing with may seem like a puzzling task. But, by doing some simple assessments you will surely find the difference between these little guys:

  1. Aquatic or notAquatic or not aquatic?
    The main difference between these bugs is that water bugs are aquatic and people often find them near water or pools. When it comes to cockroaches, they are not aquatic at all.
  2. Where did you find them?
    Cockroaches are attracted to humidity while water bugs to wet area. Therefore, cockroaches prefer to stay inside the house. When it comes to water bugs, you can find them outside.
  3. How do bugs look likeHow do they look like?
    If you found a little bug of a black or very dark brown color with paddle-like legs, then chances are this is a water bug. Cockroaches tend to be of an orange-brown color.

Ways of prevention and extermination: How to make away with roaches and water bugs before they become a huge problem

There is a huge number of ways to crack away those nasty guys. Let’s see some of them.

Step 1. Prevention: Cleaning

Bugs cleaningThe best way to prevent and get rid of roaches and water bugs is to clean up thoroughly. It doesn’t include too much. If there is nothing to eat in the house, cockroaches will have no reason to come to your property.

If you limit water sources inside the house and pay attention to standing water areas outside the house things will go much better as you will crack the water bug problem in no time. Make sure you clean up any wet surfaces to prevent the crowd of water bugs.

Once you have closed off the entrances to the house and removed the food and water sources, hire a professional exterminator who will use special pest control products to kill off any remaining water roaches in your home.

Step 2. Exclusion: traps, sprays and powders

There are various solutions on the market that are effective and help to cope with cockroaches and water bugs infestation problem. We suggest choosing one of these efficient options:

  • Check your local stores for traps. You can purchase either glue traps to capture the roaches or poison traps to kill roaches with poison bait. Most people choose 12 Month Roach Bait by Combat.
    The cost of the bait is $18.
    The bait should be stored in dry and cool area out of reach of children. It is recommended to place this bait where roaches are found. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t use sprays around the bait.
    Check your local stores for traps
  • Kleen-free naturallyDouse these nasty creatures with pesticide sprays. The pesticide works on contact. The best way to use it when you see a live roach running through your property.

    For those who prefer organic solutions we recommend using Kleen-Free Naturally Insect Eliminator by Non-Toxic that doesn’t depend on toxic chemicals.

    The average price for the product is $21.75.

  • Rroach powder and trapsAnother efficient solution is powder. It should be sprinkled wherever you have an insect problem. While deciding on the best powder, consider that roaches tend to congregate in dark places near food source.
    Speaking of the most popular powder, we should mention Boric Acid Roach Powder by Harris. You can find this solution at Amazon.
    The price is $10.77.
    The product is effective for roaches as well as water bugs and palmetto bugs.

More information on effective cockroaches’ extermination methods you can find here.

Step 3. Hire professionals

Cockroach exterminationA do-it-yourself insect removal makes the process of elimination much easier. However, it sometimes happens that methods of elimination don’t work. If you can’t eliminate roaches and water bugs yourself, hire exterminators. An initial visit of Pest Control Company is $100 to $300. Before you hire professionals, check their guarantees and make sure the chemicals they use are safe for your family and pets.

Having roaches around the property should be considered a serious matter. Whether alive or dead, they are prone to causing allergic reactions, hepatitis virus, salmonella and even asthma.
If you see one lying anywhere in the house, get rid of it immediately. Observe the areas with severe roaches’ infestations and fight them by placing glue or sticky traps.

Remember an excess to food and water source can lead to explosion of roaches’ population. Don’t let these troublesome insects take control of the house.