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Often mistaken for cockroaches or palmetto bugs, water bugs are actually aquatic insects that thrive in water. Not only can water bugs leave painful bites, but they can spread contaminants that cause diarrhea and food poisoning. We’ll help you identify a water bug, explain how to get rid of an infestation, and leave you with tips to prevent water bugs from entering your home in the future.
A true water bug is an aquatic insect classified under the order Hemiptera. The most common species of water bug is the giant water bug, also known as the electric light bug or alligator tick. Other types of water bugs include water boatmen, water scorpions, water striders, pond skaters, and water spiders. Two species of cockroaches that are commonly confused with a water bug are the American cockroach and the Oriental cockroach.
A water bug is a flat, oval-shaped creature that’s typically black, tan, or dark brown. Most water bug species are relatively large and are at least 3.8 cm long. Water bugs have legs that help them paddle through water and stay afloat and wings that help them fly. They also have clawed front feet, a piercing mouth, and a pointed beak to capture prey.
Water bugs mainly live in water, but they can be found around other water sources, like pools and ponds, and in trash cans, sewers, basements, and other damp areas at or below ground level. While water bugs typically live outside, they migrate indoors for warmth when the temperature drops. They can enter your home through cracks and holes in your walls and foundation.
Unlike cockroaches, which eat just about anything and everything, water bugs prey on insects, small fish, and other small animals with their proboscis, or biting mouthpiece. They use this part to inject a powerful enzyme that liquefies the insides of their prey to make feeding easier.
Water bugs may bite humans, but only if provoked or if their habitat is disturbed. Their bites can be painful, but seldom harbor an allergic reaction. Common symptoms of a water bug bite include:
If you’ve been bitten by a water bug, treat the bite by following these steps:
Because water bugs can spread quickly and survive for up to two weeks without water, it’s best to get rid of them as quickly as possible. Here are some methods of getting rid of waterbugs.
After getting rid of the water bugs in your home, take preventative steps to stop more from invading your property.
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