How To Get Rid Of A Waterbug Infestation

If you’re dealing with waterbugs, you’re probably not a very happy camper right now. These nasty insects are not only unnerving but also often a sign of bigger issues like water leaks, clogged drains, and otherwise unsanitary conditions.

Waterbugs are also the most difficult of the cockroach species to get rid of. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get rid of these insects on your own. Today, we are going to discuss what the waterbug is, how you ended up with a water bug infestation in your home, and different methods you can use to get rid of them and prevent them from returning in the future.

Let’s begin.

What Is A Waterbug?

Pic 1 a male and female waterbug
Male and female oriental cockroaches look quite different from one another. 

Waterbugs, also known as Oriental cockroaches or black beetles, are a type of roach commonly found throughout the United States. Originally from Africa, the waterbug is primarily found outdoors in areas rich in moisture and decay.

In spite of their name, waterbugs are not true aquatic insects and are instead a land cockroach. That said, water is a necessity for the waterbug in order for it to survive. In fact, studies have found that water bugs can live for up to one month without food, but only live two weeks without water.

There is a common misconception that waterbugs can fly. While some roach species can indeed fly and while male waterbugs do have wings, they are not capable of flight. Another interesting fact about waterbugs is that males and females look quite different from one another.

A male cockroach is around 25 mm long with wings and a shiny black, red, or burnt brown color.  Females are larger, growing to be around 32 mm long with no wings. They too are black, dark red, or burnt brown in color.

Though Oriental cockroaches are not poisonous, they can transmit diseases and are highly unsanitary. Waterbugs are often sources of foodborne illnesses like E.coli and Salmonella, which they pick up from decaying materials they are eating and carry with them on their bodies, transferring them to surfaces around our homes.

Omnivorous insects, a waterbug’s diets, which includes any type of decaying organic matter, make them a versatile and adaptable pest. And though these roaches are most often found outdoors living beneath trash cans, in sewers, water ducts, beneath porches, and other wet and dark spaces, they can find their way inside your home if the habitat is ideal.

But if water bugs are generally outdoor insects who thrive in moist conditions, how did you wind up with waterbugs inside your home?

Let’s find out.

What Has Attracted Waterbugs To Your Home Or Yard?

Pic 2 a sink drain
Waterbugs are attracted to water sources and food sources in your home. 

As we mentioned above, waterbugs are generally an outdoor species of cockroach. That said, they can find their way inside of your home and are prone to doing so during the summer.

Waterbugs may gain entry to your home via unsealed entry and exit points, open doors, ripped screens, or by sneaking in through openings along the perimeter of your house.

Because Oriental cockroaches are highly attracted to water sources, they are attracted to homes with water damage, clogged drains, or leaky pipes. Perhaps most horrifying, waterbugs can even find their way into your home through sewers, drains, pipes, or utility lines.

However, waterbugs are also attracted to different types of food sources, including decaying plant or animal matter and garbage.

Once inside of your home, waterbugs tend to stick around the bottom floors and can survive quite happily in basements, crawl spaces, cellars, toilets, sinks, service ducts, pipes and even radiators.

Since these nasty insects prefer to hide in damp, dark spaces, you may not see them as often as you may see other household invaders. So then how do you identify a water bug infestation in your home?

Trust us, there are some telltale signs. Keep reading.

How To Identify A Waterbug Infestation

Pic 3 waterbug eggs
Waterbug egg sacks are often a sign of a waterbug infestation.

One of the first signs of a large water bug infestation in your home is often a strong, foul smell. In large masses, waterbugs secret an odor that is not only noticeable in the air, but is potent enough to change the way food smells and tastes. Yuck!

But what are some other signs of a waterbug infestation in your home? Let’s take a look.

Some early signs of a waterbug infestation include:

  • Egg Casings

Female waterbugs lay egg casings that hold around 16 eggs on average, though some can hold more and some can hold less. The egg casings, also known as oothecas, are generally 8 to 10 mm long and are either dark brown or burnt red in color.

Upon being laid, oothecas take around 30 hours to hatch. Baby roaches then leave the casing behind in search of food.

  • A Strong, Foul Odor

As we stated above, unfortunately one of the first signs of a large waterbug infestation is a strong, musty odor. Oriental cockroaches secret this odor in order to communicate with other roaches, and it is highly detectable to humans. If you smell an oily, musky odor and have seen egg casings or adult waterbugs, you may be dealing with a very large waterbug infestation somewhere in your home.

  • Seeing A Waterbug

Waterbugs are typically most active at night. In regions where they are common, it isn’t unusual to see these insects outside scurrying around after dark. Many people report seeing waterbugs running from drains, sewers, or water pipes, or finding them burrowing beneath mulch or stones in their landscaping.

While waterbugs are common outside, if you see one in your home it is best to get working on a treatment plan. As we mentioned earlier, waterbug infestations in the home are especially difficult to treat.

The below video describes the different types of cockroaches you may come across in your home and further explains how to go about looking for a waterbug infestation. 

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With that noted, let’s take a look at some common treatment methods you can use for getting rid of waterbugs on your own.

How To Get Rid Of Waterbugs – Most Popular Methods

Pic 4 a brown waterbu on a wall
Waterbugs may be tough to get rid of without professional help, but it is possible.. 

Taking care of a waterbug infestation on your own may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. It’s best to try and catch a waterbug invasion early to stop them from reproducing and spreading.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common treatment methods you can use to remove waterbugs from your home.

Natural Products

Natural products are often used in homes with children and pets or in situations where a waterbug infestation is not yet out of control. Many types of products you can use for waterbug removal include ultrasonic pest repellers, glue traps, and natural sprays.

While we are always fans of using natural products for pest control that are safe for people, pets and the environment, the unfortunate reality is that large waterbug infestations often require more intense removal methods like insecticides and professionals.


There are a number of insecticides that experts recommend to help eliminate a waterbug infestation in your home.

Some insecticides use natural ingredients but many use toxic chemicals and can be harmful to people, pets and the environment if not used as directed.

That said, because waterbugs can be so difficult to get rid of once they infest your home, you may need to use insecticides along with other removal methods in order to eliminate a waterbug infestation effectively.

Home Remedies

Waterbugs are resistant to different forms of removal methods, but experts do note there are some home remedies you can use that are effective in helping to get rid of them and repel them.

Most home remedies require ingredients you may already have in your kitchen or pantry, and we will list some recipes you can make yourself that will also help keep water bugs away below.


Unfortunately, waterbugs are stubborn pests who are very resistant to many traditional forms of pest control. Sometimes pesticides and other forms of more intense treatment is required to get rid of these insects inside your home. We will talk more about when and why to call professionals to help you manage a waterbug infestation further down.

For now, let’s take a look at how to begin preparing to rid your home of waterbugs.


Getting Rid Of Waterbugs Starts With Some Preparation:

  • Clean and sanitize
  • Declutter
  • Lay out lures and traps to ensure you do indeed have water bugs
  • Choose your treatment method (Natural products, insecticides, home remedies, professionals)
  • Treat your home with one your treatment choice or choices and repeat as needed

Now let’s talk about some methods you can use to help get rid of an Orientla cockroach infestation, beginning with some natural treatments.

How To Get Rid Of The Waterbug Using Natural Repellents

Pic 5 diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous Earth is a natural pest control product you can use against waterbugs. 

Because waterbug infestations can be difficult to get rid of with natural treatments, we recommend using these methods along with other forms of pest control in order to ensure you are completely eradicating the problem.

That said, if you believe you have caught a waterbug infestation early on and are only dealing with a few in your home, you may be able to stop them using the below products alone.

Let’s take a look at some of the best natural products you can use to treat a waterbug infestation.

Wondercide Natural Indoor Pest Control

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Wondercide spray uses natural ingredients and essential oils like lemongrass, peppermint oil, cedar oil and more to help kill and eliminate roaches and other pests on contact. The scent the spray leaves behind can also help to repel and prevent waterbugs from returning in the future.

While this is a natural pest repellent spray that is safe to use around people and pets, it may need to be used alongside other pest control methods in order to eliminate and control an infestation of roaches.

Diatomaceous Earth Roach Killer

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Diatomaceous Earth is an all purpose powder used for a multitude of different household needs, but it is also a very popular form of organic pest control. Made from fossilized algae, Diatomaceous Earth works by penetrating the exoskeleton of insects like waterbugs, which ultimately dehydrates and kills them upon contact.

This product can be used both inside and outside of your home and is safe for people, pets and the environment. It is also highly effective in controlling other pests like bed bugs, crickets, spiders, ants, and more.

HARRIS Sticky Roach Traps

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We recommend you use sticky traps throughout your water bug infestation to help you keep an eye on the exact type of roaches you are dealing with and to determine if you are successful in the method of pest control you are using.

The sticky traps above are specifically designed to trap roaches using a non-toxic glue. These traps are also easy to place around your home and designed to fit into tight spaces where Orientla cockroaches and other similar pests like to hide.

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller Wall Plug-In

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Ultrasonic pest repellers like the one listed above are a popular home pest control method many people use to help eliminate a number of home invading pests like mice, rats, spiders, roaches, ants, and even bats.

That said, ultrasonic pest repellents can be somewhat unreliable and may need to be used with other forms of pest control to rid your home of waterbugs, especially if you are dealing with a very large infestation.

Harris Boric Acid Roach Tablets

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Boric acid uses a natural ingredient found in minerals to kill waterbugs after it is ingested. That said, these Boric Acid tablets above are specifically designed to lure roaches like waterbugs to eat them. Upon ingesting these tablets, the boric acid expands in the waterbug’s stomach and kills it.

One of the best things about using boric acid tablets is that they are generally safe for people, pets and the environment and roaches may even carry these tablets back to other roaches, helping eliminate more.

How To Get Rid Of The Waterbug With Insecticides

Pic 6 a drawing of an insecticide

Insecticides are often needed to control waterbugs.

Although many insecticides use toxic chemicals and other harsh ingredients to kill and control major pest problems, they may be needed for serious infestations. Because waterbugs or Oriental cockroaches can be so difficult to get rid of, even with traditional pest control treatments, a more heavy duty insecticide designed specifically for water bugs may be needed.

Let’s take a look at some of the most highly recommended products you can use to get rid of waterbugs using insecticides, according to experts.

Demon Max Insecticide

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First on our list of insecticides that work to get rid of the waterbug is Demon Max. This insecticide uses the active ingredient Cypermethrin, which is proven to kill and control hard-to -manage pests like Oriental cockroaches, bed bugs, and more.

It is a strong insecticide that should be used very carefully. However, when used properly, this product can help control home invading pests for up to three years.

Combat Max Roach Killing Bait Stations

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The above bait stations use a poison called fypronal to kill waterbugs and roaches at the source. The container is child and pet resistant, however it should still be used with caution as the chemicals inside are toxic to people and pets.

That said, this insect bait poison can work effectively in killing roaches throughout your home when placed in areas you have noticed waterbug activity.

In order to get the most out of these bait stations, we recommend using them alongside other waterbug control methods on this list.

Advion Syngenta Gel Bait

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This gel bait by Advion uses several active ingredients known to kill a number of pests but is specifically geared towards controlling roaches. We like this insecticide for the use of waterbugs because it targets insects that are resistant to certain treatments and can be uses along cracks, crevices, and other damp, dark spaces where waterbugs like to hide.

That said, thiis product is a target treatment insecticide and should be used along with other pest control methods that can also reach larger areas.

Hot Shot Waterbug Killer

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This spray by Hot Shot is specifically designed to target roaches, waterbugs, silverfish, spiders, Asian lady beetles, crickets, stink bugs, and other tough pests. What we like about this insecticide is that you can use it both inside and out, which is helpful if you are dealing with an abundance of waterbugs outdoors as well.

While this insecticide does not stain or leave behind a sticky mess, it does use chemicals that can be toxic to people and pets and should be used with caution.

HARRIS Home Insect Killer

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Last on our list of insecticides to help manage and kill waterbugs in the home is another product by Harris. This insecticide uses a formula that doesn’t stain or leave a harsh odor but is specifically designed to target roaches, ants, spiders, stink bugs, mosquitoes, fleas, flies, and silverfish.

You can use it both inside and out but remember that it uses chemical toxins to kill pests that can be harmful to people, pets and the environment and should be used with caution.

Best Home Remedies To Get Rid Of A Waterbug Infestation

Pic 7 essential oils 1
Essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender and tea tree oil can help repel waterbugs.

Because waterbugs can be difficult to get rid of even with traditional insecticides and commercial repellents, it may be tough to try and control a waterbug infestation with home remedies alone.

That said, there are some treatments and home made recipes you can use alongside traditional pest control methods for waterbugs that can help manage and prevent problems.

We have listed some of our favorite methods for controlling water bugs using home remedies below.

  • Use Essential Oils To Repel Waterbugs

Essential oils are becoming more and more popular as a natural and safe method of do it yourself pest control. The essential oils that are best to use against waterbugs include peppermint, tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil and lavender oil.

How to make your own essential oil spray for water bug control:

  1. Mix 15 oil drops of whichever above oil you prefer with 10 ounces of water in a spray bottle. Spray around your home wherever you have noticed waterbug activity and repeat as needed.
  1. Soak a cotton ball with the above oil of your choice or a combination of the above oils and leave them around entry and exit points, in basements, bathrooms, cupboards, near drains, and outside in gardens to repel roaches, waterbugs, spiders, and other pests. Replace dried cotton balls with freshly soaked cotton balls every two to three days.
  • Make Your Own White Vinegar And Water Spray

While white vinegar does not kill pests like water bugs, it does make for an excellent and natural repellent and is wonderful to use as a preventative. To make your own spray, simply mix two cups of water with one cup of vinegar in the spray bottle and spray it around your home at all entry and exit points.

If you want to make this vinegar and water spray even more potent, you can add ten drops of an essential oil like peppermint oil or eucalyptus oil.

  • Make Baking Soda And Sugar Bait

If you mix baking soda and sugar, it will create a bait that is irresistible and deadly to Oriental cockroaches and other roach pests.

Simply combine equal parts baking soda and sugar and leave it on a flat dish in areas you have noticed roach activity. The roaches will ingest the bait and the baking soda will expand in their stomachs, killing them.

  • Instant Potatos

Instant potatoes is another form of roach bait that is safe to use around people and pets but is deadly to roaches. This process is inexpensive and easy to use as you just sprinkle dry instant potatoes whereve you have noticed roach activity. Once the waterbug eats the instant potatoes, the product will expand in its stomach and kill it.

  • Boiled Catnip

Amazingly, catnip is a potent and effective waterbug control method you can use to both kill and repel roaches and other pests. Experts recommend boiling the catnip in water for about ten minutes and then applying it to a spray bottle after it has cooled.

You can spray it on roaches to kill them on contact or spray around entry and exit points or other places you have noticed roach activity to repel them.

How To Get Rid Of Waterbugs – When To Call A Professional

Pic 8 a yellow pest control van
Waterbugs can be tricky to get rid of and you may need help from a professional pest control expert.

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try or the methods you have used, a waterbug infestation is too severe for you to get rid of on your own. In this case, a professional pest control expert may be needed to help solve the problem.

Pest control experts may use a combination of treatment methods to eradicate a waterbug infestation in your home including natural remedies, insecticides, pesticides, and other treatments.

If you have tried the above methods and continue to deal with Oriental cockroaches in your home, it is time to call a professional.

How To Prevent Future Waterbug Problems

Pic 9 a bucket of cleaning supplies
Cleaning and sanitizing your home often can help reduce your chances of a waterbug infestation. 

Keeping waterbugs out of your home is generally easier than trying to get rid of them once they are inside. Some of the best preventative measures include routine cleaning, sanitizing, and home maintenance, but other preventative methods may surprise you.

You can help keep Oriental cockroaches out of your home by following the below methods:

  •  Reduce Moisture Buildup In And Around Your Home

Water bugs are attracted to water sources and food sources. Above all, though, they need water to survive for long periods of time. Dark, moist areas also provide ideal breeding grounds for Oriental cockroaches.

You can help keep them from entering your house by taking care of any water damage as soon as you notice it. Repair leaky pipes, unclog drains and garbage disposals, and keep gutters clean.

  • Clean and Sanitize

Use quality cleaning products to wipe down counters often before and after you prepare food. Vacuum, sweep, and tidy up to help ensure you don’t leave any crumbs behind. We also suggest not leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight or leaving perishable foods in indoor garbage cans.

  • Store Foods Properly 

Store pantry foods in airtight containers to not only keep them fresh, but to help reduce your chances of attracting roaches, rodents, and other pests. Refrigerate perishable foods when you are done using them and eat or get rid of fruit before it gets too ripe.

  • Landscape And Remove Debris Outside

Clean your yard and home regularly to keep pests like water bugs at bay. Rake dead leaves and remove yard debris to eliminate hiding places for these roaches outside. Use straw instead of mulch for landscaping and keep vegetation at least three feet away from the perimeter of your home.

  • Declutter Your Home 

Keeping your home tidy and organized will help eliminate places where water bugs can hide and breed. Along with removing any potential water sources and food sources that may attract these insects, you can also remove clutter around the home, and clean under furniture and appliances often.

  • Seal and Caulk Entry and Exit Points

In order to keep water bugs and other pests from entering your home, make sure entry and exit points are properly sealed. Repair ripped screens and caulk and seal any areas that need it. We also recommend making sure windows and doors close properly and there are no open spaces large enough for pests to make their way through.

And remember, while water bugs are generally an outdoor pest, they can quickly infiltrate your home and become a major nuisance. Because these insects can transmit bacteria that can cause serious illnesses, it’s important to try and stop a roach problem as soon as possible.

We hope the above methods and steps will help you control and remove your waterbug problem for good so you can enjoy the rest of your summer pest free.

Best of luck!