Bug-Free Swimming: How to Keep Water Bugs Out of Your Pool for Good

Looking for ways to keep water bugs out of your pool? There are a few simple things you can do to bug-proof your pool and enjoy a summer of worry-free swimming. Read our tips here.

Water bugs are a common nuisance for homeowners with an outdoor swimming pool. Not only do these aquatic pests breed rapidly, but they also carry harmful bacteria and can contaminate the water in your pool. This article is for you if you’re frustrated by water bugs in your pool. Here, I’ll share a few tips to help you get rid of the pesky critters quickly and safely.

Water Bugs

Types of Water Bugs in Pool

Like the name says, water bugs are insects living in or near water. You’ll mainly spot them in ponds and other natural bodies of water. However, two types, the water boatmen and backswimmers, have a particular affinity for swimming pools.

1. Water Boatmen

Water boatmen, also known as corixids, might seem intimidating at first glance, but they’re okay regarding the water bugs you could encounter in your swimming pool. They might not be the most pleasant to look at, but they won’t cause you any harm and are generally peaceful insects.

Scientific Designation

These water bugs belong to the Corixidae family (water boatmen) in the Hemiptera order 

What Do They Look Like?

Water boatmen have a distinctive appearance that sets them apart from other insects. They are typically oval in shape and have a flattened body that allows them to easily swim through the water. Their brown or greenish-brown coloration blends in well with their aquatic environment, making them less noticeable to predators.

They have big eyes and are about half an inch long max. Their back legs are longer than the others and have fringes of hair to keep them afloat and help them paddle. They have wings and can fly.

What Do They Eat?

They eat things like algae, plant detritus, other water microorganisms, and mosquito larvae, which makes them helpful insects, but having them in your pool isn’t the most awesome thing to look at.

Are They Dangerous?

Not at all! They’re not poisonous or bitey, and they’re pretty mellow.

Compared to many other insects, water boatmen are relatively harmless and can even be considered beneficial in some ways.

2. Backswimmers

“If water boatmen are the good guys, then … yup, you guessed it. Backswimmers are the bad guys.” – Matt Giovanisci

They’re not entirely evil but can be a nuisance compared to water boatmen.

For example, backswimmers are predators and bite if provoked, which can cause pain similar to a bee sting. So, if you’re trying to keep your pool free of creepy-crawly things, backswimmers might not be the insects you want to see swimming around.

Scientific Designation

These water bugs belong to the Notonectidae family (backswimmers) in the Hemiptera order (true bugs).

What Do They Look Like?

Backswimmers are long and thin, with a light- to medium-brown color. Their back legs are longer and fringed to help them skim across the water. They have wings, can fly, and are about half an inch long. Their most distinctive thing is that they swim upside-down, hence the name “backswimmers.”

They can be mistaken for water boatmen, so if you see water bugs in your pool, check if they’re upside-down to identify them.

What Do They Eat?

As predators, they eat other bugs, including water boatmen.

If you have water boatmen in your pool, chances are you have backswimmers too.

Are They Dangerous?

These bugs are not poisonous, but they do bite. Their bites can hurt, similar to bee stings.

Water Bugs 2

How to Get Rid of Water Bugs in Your Pool

1. Shock Chlorination

What to Do

If you own a pool, you may already know how to handle this. Use Calcium Hypochlorit. It’s quite inexpensive and efficient. Add two 1 pound bags of chlorine shock for 10,000 gallons of water in your pool. Before swimming, make sure the chlorine level is at or below 3 ppm. To avoid the sun burning off the chlorine too rapidly, apply the chlorine shock at night.

How It Works

It kills the algae in the pool, making it distasteful for water-dwelling bugs and hard for them to lay eggs. Brush and vacuum the pool after to remove any algae residue.

When to Use It

This method is an excellent way to eliminate algae in your pool and keep it from attracting water bugs. However, it may take a while since the bugs can live up to 4 weeks without food.

2. Liquid Dish Detergent

What to Do

Add 1/8 cup of dish detergent per 10,000 gallons of water in the middle of the pool. Leave it for a day, clean the pool filters, and skim the water. The bugs should all be dead by then.

How It Works

The dish detergent produces a film on the water, preventing the bugs from breathing. When the air bubbles they trap run out, they resurface to repeat the process, but the dish detergent stops them from trapping the air bubbles, making them drown.

When to Use It

This method is always a good option, but it’s best to use it after shock chlorination to kill the algae that attract the bugs in the first place.

3. Oil Method

What to Do

There are two choices. Pour oil into the pool to create a coating on top, or fill a big bucket with pool water and add a layer of oil. When you’ve finished skimming the bugs from the pool, place them in the bucket and close the lid for at least 24 hours. By then, the bugs should have died.

How It Works

It works the same way as the dish detergent, stopping the bugs from breathing.

When to Use It

This method is natural, but adding oil directly to the pool makes it hard to clean afterward. The oil in the bucket method requires more manual effort than letting the dish detergent and pool filters do the work, so it’s recommended to stick to the dish detergent method.

How to Prevent Them From Coming Back to You

So you got rid of those pesky waterbugs, but now it’s time to keep them away for good. 

Here’s what you can do:

First, ensure your pool’s chemistry is on point, so algae don’t become a problem. Chlorinate twice a week, especially if you’re using the pool frequently. A shock treatment means adding a big dose of chlorine and stirring it up, so it spreads evenly. This is more effective than just dribbling in a little chlorine at a time. Do this at night, so it has time to work its magic overnight.

Every day, use your pool skimmer to scoop up dead bugs and any algae bits floating around. Keep the pool clean!

When you’re not using the pool, cover it up. This will keep the bugs and algae out and keep your pool sparkly.

Turn off any lights near the pool. Bugs, especially waterbugs, love light, so don’t make it easy for them to find your pool. You can also get bug zappers that use UV light to attract and kill bugs.

Keep your yard trimmed. Don’t give bugs a place to lay their eggs by keeping vegetation around the pool to a minimum. Trim any grass and leaves near the pool.

How to Keep Water bugs Out of Your Pool for Good

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I prevent water bugs from entering my pool?

To prevent water bugs, use a pool cover when the pool is not in use, keep pool lights off at night, and seal any cracks or gaps in the pool area that insects could use to enter.

How can I maintain proper water chemistry to deter water bugs?

Maintaining balanced pool water with proper pH, chlorine levels, and sanitizer levels can help create an environment less conducive to water bug infestations.

Can I use pool covers specifically designed to keep bugs out?

Yes, there are pool covers designed with fine mesh or netting that can help keep bugs out while allowing water to flow through.

Are there specific plants or landscaping elements that can deter water bugs?

Some plants, like marigolds and mint, are believed to repel certain insects. Landscaping elements that create a barrier between the pool and natural water sources may also be helpful.

What are the long-term strategies to keep water bugs out of the pool for good?

Long-term strategies include regular pool maintenance, sealing entry points, using pool covers, and ensuring proper water chemistry to make the pool less attractive to water bugs.

Author’s Note

In conclusion, waterbugs can be a frustrating and unsanitary problem in your pool, but with a few simple steps, you can get rid of them and keep them from coming back. By maintaining the proper chemistry levels, skimming regularly, covering the pool when not in use, turning off lights near the pool, and keeping the surrounding area trimmed, you can ensure a bug-free swimming experience. With a little effort, you can enjoy a clean and inviting pool ready for you and your family to dive into at any time.

Having problems with frogs too? How to keep frogs out of the pool? Here are 7 effective ways.

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About the author

Brian Anderson

The rather dry pool world out there is in need of some passion to make it shine. With the help of my son Ruben and his wife Maria our mission is to help you create the favorite spot of your house - your pool.

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