If you’re a swimming pool owner, you’re going to need to know how to get rid of waterbugs. Waterbugs are pesky (some people would say disgusting) little creatures that occupy your water in your swimming pool and can even leave a nasty bite, not to mention being the last thing you’d want to dive in and swim alongside! The thing is if you don’t know how to get rid of waterbugs, they can start breeding in your water really quickly and soon become an infestation that spreads across your pool and pool surroundings – yuck!

However – these insects are notoriously resistant to insecticide – or they’ll all die off and then mysteriously resurface again a few days or weeks later! So here’s what you need to know about protecting, preventing, and treating your pool water – how to get rid of waterbugs for good, and ensure they stay gone!

What Are Waterbugs?

I know – you’ve probably spotted the cockroach looking things floating in your water and are probably running about like a headless chicken searching for a solution, but before you go flooding your pool with chemicals or calling pest control, if you want to know how to get rid of waterbugs, you’ve got to be able to identify you actually have waterbugs in your water in the first place!

What? Didn’t the writer of this dumb article not realize I have bugs in my pool, therefore, I have waterbugs? Don’t worry, I’m not deaf. It’s just that there are literally thousands of different types of bugs that can actually land in your pool – waterbugs refer to a very specific group of insects that actually LIVE and breed in your pool water – not just a visiting invader. So if you want to know how to get rid of waterbugs, you need to be sure you’ve got those things that live and breed in there – not just the temporary guest!

The Different Types Of Waterbugs

Here’s how you identify what kind of bug you have in your pool, so you can determine whether or not you just have a random visiting creature or swarm of them that will either soon die off and/ or move on, or if you’ve got more permanent residents (don’t freak out, we can get rid of them)!


Although they aren’t very pleasant, they’re harmless, and you don’t tend to get too many of them. They’re small, brown, oval-shaped and not very large.

Although they’re not dangerous, swimming alongside waterboatmen still isn’t pleasant – you’re not going to want to anywhere near your water while these are swimming around in there! The thing is, these creatures feed on algae in your pool – so you might be more inclined to notice them after a winter season, or quiet summer where maybe you haven’t paid particular attention to being completely thorough with your pool cleaning and maintenance. If you have a noticeable amount of water boatmen in your water, then chances are, somewhere in your pool you have algae growing or forming.


Backswimmers look a lot like cockroaches in your pool. They grow up to 12cm long and you really aren’t going to want to swim if you have these breeding in your water! Not only are they particularly unsightly and creepy-crawly like they can also deliver a seriously painful bite. Not recommended for kids, pets, or anybody, really!

You’ll often find backswimmers where you have waterboatmen – double whammy of grossness – because backswimmers feed on waterboatmen.

So, identifying what’s in your pool is important to know whether or not they’re actually living in there, or just passing. Hopefully, yours are just passing insects, but if you recognize any of the above, let’s look at how to get rid of waterbugs! And you’re going to want to get rid of them pretty fast before you have an infestation on your hands. These things breed quickly.

How To Get Rid Of Waterbugs?

Skim Your Pool

The first thing you’re going to want to do is to get rid of waterbugs that you can see with your naked eye. We will talk about larvae in just a second.

Grab your pool net, and skim every part of the water thoroughly. Pay particular attention to any ‘hidden’ or ‘dark’ areas – for example in and around areas of rock, water features such as fountains, caves or grottos, and definitely, underneath any overhanging plants, trees, or branches – these are perfect breeding grounds for these bugs! Also, don’t forget to check around steps, any overhanging areas/pool design features that lead to shadowed or harder to reach spots.

Skim those waterbugs right out! We advise taking them somewhere far away or they’re just going to come right back again – dumping them into the hedge isn’t an option. Or use a bin and dispose of humanely somewhere. Just get them far away from your pool!

Next, brush your pool

Grab your pool brush or add your brush attachment on to the end of your telescopic pole, and get scrubbing everywhere. Again, in particular, you’re going to want to pay attention to dark areas, plant areas, feature areas, steps, under ladders etc– and also look out for any cracks in your pool surrounds. Scrub the walls and floor of your pool thoroughly.

I know you’re wondering isn’t this overkill? The thing is, if you’ve spotted these bugs, there’s a good chance they’re already breeding in your water, and the algae that they feed on can actually be microscopic in its early stages.

That’s why you need to get rid of it now – by removing its food source and breeding grounds, you’ll be killing off the waterboatmen, and most likely the backswimmers too!

That’s how to get rid of waterbugs – you take away everything they need to be able to live in your water!

Vacuum the pool

Whether you do it manually or with a robot vacuum cleaner, this helps suck up any of the microscopic specks of the food source you can’t see. Goodbye, algae!

Shock your pool

Perhaps you’ve been a bit lax on the cleaning, perhaps you’ve missed or neglected a few of the tougher to reach areas (those back-aching floor corners, anyone)? Perhaps you’ve been away, or maybe your pool has just been out of action for the winter, or overused this summer!

Whatever the reason for your algae and waterbug growth, your pool needs a fairly regular shock treatment to help get rid of them.

Grab your chemical of choice, wait until the sun is low for maximum impact, add 3 -5 x your normal amount of chlorine or preferred chemical, keep testing your water every hour or so to make sure your chlorine levels stay high for around 5-7 hours, and them wait until your chlorine levels have returned to below 3ppm which signals your water is safe to swim in and – you have shocked your pool, which should help blast those bugs out of there.

To be on the safe side, you’ll want to shock your pool twice to ensure that all of your waterbugs are gone, including their eggs and food source!

Balance Your Pool’s pH level

When did you last check your pool’s pH level? Be honest! Well if you’re not keeping on top of this your pool could potentially be unbalanced and either too acid or too alkaline, either way, can lead to algae growth and the presence of unwanted insects!

Use your pH papers to test your water and add the required chemicals to either raise or lower your pool’s pH levels if required. Remember the optimum level to aim for is around 7.5. Being in the 7.2-7.8 range is acceptable, but any higher or lower and the dreaded green or cloudy water can creep in fast – signifying the presence of algae.

Where there’s waterbug food, waterbugs aren’t far behind, so get checking your pH level, asap!

Check The Deck!

Don’t forget the deck if you want to know how to get rid of waterbugs! Your deck isn’t just your sun deck. Your pool deck area is every single area around your pool, including any pathways, shrubs, bushes, features, statues, ornaments, pool features, and fencing as well as the actual ground itself! And guess what – algae forms in ALL of these places too, in fact anywhere within splashing or walking distance of the pool, and anywhere that can get rained on!

You’re looking for any telltale green marks that shouldn’t be there, and any cracks or fractures that might harbor microscopic algae inside. Algae is super fast-spreading and it can literally migrate from a crack in your pool fence into your pool water overnight, providing food and a home for those waterbugs.

Scrub the deck

If you haven’t thoroughly scrubbed, cleaned, and disinfected your pool deck recently, now’s the time. Grab your broom and disinfectant, lock up the kids and pets (not literally, just away from the pool is fine) and get scrubbing. Ensure you clear away any leaf droppings, any old pool toys that haven’t been moved in a while, focus on green/shaded areas and look out for any cracks.

You might want to power wash your deck using a hose, and don’t forget to use a sanitizer that is especially for pool decking areas – otherwise, you’re going to allow potentially toxic chemicals to flow into your pool. As well as being hazardous to health this could undo all your efforts with balancing your pool’s pH and you might have to do the whole thing over again!

Maintain Your Pool Surrounds

You need to skim your pool, check and balance your pH levels, and clean your deck area daily when battling with a water bug infestation. If you want to truly know how to get rid of waterbugs, you’re going to need to learn how to prevent them in the first place – which means no more sloppy pool cleaning and maintenance! Stay on top of your cleaning, make sure you are shocking the pool weekly at least for a month or so until you’re sure the infestation has gone, maintain your pH levels and daily checks, and skim, skim, skim.

All of this will help stop the dreaded algae from taking hold in your pool, and the waterbugs with it!

When Waterbug Elimination Isn’t Working!

Ok, so you’ve tried the above and argh! Shock horror, you spot another waterbug in your pool just a few days later! So now what to do – how to get rid of those pesky waterbugs for good!?

There are a few methods that are recommended – however, please read the instructions carefully, especially if you have pets or children, as the following methods can often use toxic chemicals and substances to really get rid of the creepy crawlies.

  • Cockroach bait – this is a trap or poison that you place in certain areas around your pool edge
  • Boric acid – works in the same way. You sprinkle it around your pool edge, and it acts as a poison for those bugs

Alternatively, you could always call in pest control.

How To Get Rid Of Waterbugs – Bonus Tips

Like we have already covered, the best solution for getting rid of waterbugs is preventing them from appearing in the first place,

The best ways to do this, in addition to keeping your pool area spotless and cleaning your pool thoroughly and consistently, is to ensure you aren’t creating a space that they are attracted to.

Our bonus tips for keeping your pool clear of waterbugs are:

  • Keep your pool covered during the winter. If algae do form over the winter while it’s not in use, the bugs are much less likely to be able to find their way in, especially if you have a hard cover.
  • keep your lights off at night. Yes, I know your pool looks so pretty at night with that warm glow, but it doesn’t look so pretty when you wake up and find that the lights were literally like telling the waterbug neighborhood that’s there’s an open house going on. Keep your lights off overnight and you’ll find much fewer bugs manage to find their way into your pool, much less start breeding in there.

So, that’s how to get rid of waterbugs! Remember – prevention is MUCH better than cure, keep those algae at bay!