Waterbug Facts

These aptly named toe-biters have a nasty, painful sting from which they inject toxic saliva into unsuspecting hosts, usually swimmers who happen across their path. Their name is derived from their desired habitat: near water. Waterbugs are considered pests under all circumstances. If you have a pool, a pond or an outside water feature, you should consider preventive action against waterbugs, as they are an unpleasant guest and will cause harm to friends and family members – they are fierce predators.

Giant waterbugs can grow to a magnificent four inches and are thought to be one of the largest known insects to inhabit the United States. Waterbugs are a type of cockroach, all of which are generally undesirable to people, but this particular species is thought to be the most unsanitary and has a very potent smell. Waterbugs thrive in wet, damp areas and eat an assortment of fish, crustaceans and other water-bound critters, such as tadpoles, salamanders and snails.

Waterbug Identification

Waterbugs resembles many other cockroaches, but may be identified successfully by their sheer size, which is much larger than a typical cockroach. Waterbugs can grow upwards of four inches, and are a very dark tan or brown color, much darker than other species and may even have a jet black, glossy shell. They are oval in shape, and have six legs and a set of antenna.

True to their heritage, the Waterbug enjoys very dark, damp areas but is more commonly found staking prey in ponds and other dank areas where water and food are plentiful. They can also be identified by their sting, which is particularly potent. Waterbugs sometimes “play dead” when a larger creature or human passes by. They will then excrete venom in preparation for their attack. This can create an even more painful sting.

Waterbug Habitat

Waterbugs prefer hot, humid climates and are commonly found in America and other temperate countries. If found living in the home, these roaches are likely to be found near leaking faucets, in rotting wood, or hiding in garden compost heaps or leaves where they can enjoy a wet environment. They can also find their way into skirting boards, crevices and other small areas. Many homeowners do not identify waterbugs as roaches but their presence is considered a roach infestation.

Waterbugs may be found living in a number of places, from the dank sewers systems found in many cities to common garden ponds or even swimming pools. They can swim particularly well but are unable to breathe underwater. Instead, they return to the surface, capture air and return to their hunting.

In spite of the fact that these bugs are found in or near water, many people come into contact with waterbugs out of water. They are sometimes called electric light bugs due to their infatuation with bright or neon lights. These insects can often be found under streetlights or illuminated signs, when after hours of flying towards the light, they reach exhaustion and pass out underneath.

Life Cycle of Pest

Waterbugs have three stages in their life cycle: the egg, the larvae and the adult phases. The total length of time during these phases may vary, but typically last approximately six hundred days. Female waterbugs lay eggs that are small, oval and hardy. These are typically laid about one week after reproduction. Females may lay one egg a month for up to ten months of the year and usually have around sixteen eggs per case. The egg will turn a dark brown or back within about a day after it is laid.

Once the egg hatches, a reddish-brown larvae emerges. This signals the second life stage in which the roach is a nymph. During this time, the larvae will undergo several periods in which they will shed their skin to accommodate rapid growth. These are known as insars, and each insar requires a feeding before the next can be reached. Waterbugs do not develop wings at this time in their life, but they will forage for food and are already considered predators.

The third stage is adulthood. This is the final stage in their life, at which point the wings become distinguished and the insects develop the ability to fly. Males are greater in length and have around nineteen body segments, whereas their female counterparts have only thirteen or fourteen. When they reach sexual maturity, waterbugs are able to reproduce and continue the natural life cycle.

Waterbugs and Humans

Waterbugs have a very distinct and potent smell. They also have a very painful sting, which can be amplified by its ability to fain death. This technique allows the waterbug more time for its toxins to build before finally striking. Their bite can be significantly more painful for smaller children. These insects are considered pests when found in the home or garden and should be treated accordingly.

Sightings may be more common in areas with bright lights; these creatures are fascinated by the neon signs and street-lamps found in many cities and urban areas. They are most commonly found when the weather changes and the cooler weather pushes them into the home in search of warmth.

Waterbugs are not known to carry disease and do not have any other significant medical afflictions aside from their bite. However, in the case of a bite from one of these insects, medical attention should be sought, especially in the case of children. Their shed skin can also act as an allergen.

Waterbug Control

In the case that a waterbug is found within the home, the best advice is to clean thoroughly. Sanitation is one of the most efficient methods to prevent and eliminate waterbugs. Professional assistance may be required, especially if children are present.

Soaps: Soaps or detergents may be used in swimming pools and ponds to help kill waterbugs. When eliminating these creatures from a pool, soap can be applied to the water with the lights turned off. Simply add a few tablespoons of soap once a month to ensure a thin sheen on the water surface. This will trap and suffocate any bugs over night, all of which can be cleaned the following morning.

Further home treatments may include an assortment of chemical based insecticides, such as Borax or Pyrethrums, which kill these offending pests. When applying insecticides, it is important to read the labels and follow the instructions strictly. Where possible, a thorough application throughout the entire home is recommended as these creatures can find their way into crevices and other small spaces.

Waterbug Entomology

Waterbugs, or Periplaneta americana, are also known as toe-biters for their accuracy in biting swimmers’ feet. They are also known as the American cockroach and are one of the largest insects known in America.

Waterbugs belong to the animalia kingdom and are also part of the arthropoda phylum. They are classed as insecta, or an insect, and belong to the Blattidae family. They are significant to the periplaneta genus. There are currently forty-one known species which share the same genus, and over one hundred and fifty known cockroaches in total.

This underwater species can hold their breath for up to forty minutes and come up for air during resting periods. When on land, they can run up to three miles per hour and also have the ability to fly once they have reached maturity. They are the largest known species of roach and can grow up to four inches in length. They are usually a dark, reddish-brown.