Are Water Bugs the Same as Cockroaches?

waterbug vs cockroach
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Though there are quite a few insects out there that it can be difficult to tell apart at times, the Oriental Cockroach and American cockroach have been nicknamed water bugs. This is confusing because they are not actually water bugs but rather a different type of insect called a water bug.

In this article, we will tell you how to tell the difference between these similar bugs. We will try to make it easy to see.

What are Water Bugs?

Waterbugs are bugs that live in water. There are many different kinds of waterbugs like the Giant Water Bug, the Water Boatman and the Water Scorpion. The waterbug’s name comes from its love of living in water. It has strong legs that act as paddles to help it swim through the water easily.

Waterbugs often thrive near pools, and may in fact migrate to a pool surface when they see there is the availability of an easier food source.

Despite the name, waterbugs have a diet that consists mostly of mosquitoes and other pests. Their bites are painful, so when you see these bugs around your home make sure to keep them away from any surfaces where kids may come into contact with them.

Cockroaches That Are Mistaken To Be Waterbugs

The Oriental Cockroach is often mistaken for a palmetto bug, or even a water bug and this is not unreasonable because they are drawn to damp areas just like the other bugs. However, the oriental cockroaches are originally from Africa and cannot survive in water.
Their brownish-black body carries them away from their name.

Oriental cockroaches are about an inch long. Male Oriental cockroaches have wings while female oriental cockroaches do not. Despite this, male Oriental cockroaches cannot fly.

There is another type of cockroach called American Cockroach. It can be mistaken for a water bug because it likes wet places like sewers and drains. These cockroaches are big, about two inches long, and they might be reddish brown in color.

American cockroaches love to eat anything, even dirty things. They can carry germs and make people sick. But they do not bite people like other bugs do.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Cockroach and A Water Bug

There are many differences between a cockroach and a water bug. One way to tell the difference is by looking at their backsides. If it has stripes, then it’s a cockroach. But if its backside is black, it’s a water bug. Another way to tell the difference is that if they’re in an area where there isn’t food, then they will fly but not usually higher than eye level so you can see them better.

Insect Size and Appearance

American Cockroaches are a type of cockroach that is bigger than water bugs. The size ranges from 1 inch to 1.5 inches. American cockroaches come in many colors, but most are brown or dark colored. They eat anything and are not picky about what they eat or where they live as long as they have food and shelter nearby.

Oriental Cockroaches also come in many colors, but most are brown or dark colored too. They can grow up to three inches long with the females being slightly larger than males on average by 0.1 inches-0.2 inches on average on their length and width dimensions respectively (about 2% difference).

Some bugs have an external shell. The external shell is usually black or brown. Some bugs live in water, and some live on land. Water boatmen have strong legs that are longer so they can walk easily through water. Giant water bugs look like dying leaves because their body is oval-shaped and tan or brown in colour.

Water bugs have claws on their front feet that help them get food. They also have teeth to bite enemies.

If you put these two bugs side by side, you will notice that they look different. One is brownish and the other is a little bit darker.

Habitat and Behavior

Oriental and American Cockroaches are not water bugs. They love to be near water, but they cannot live in it. Oriental and American Cockroaches like sewers, drainage pipes, basements, laundry rooms, garages and crawl spaces. That is how they can get into a home because they will come through drains and make their way into the house.

The Oriental and American cockroach would rather live outdoors. They are usually found in dumpsters, yards with lots of leaves or mulch, near firewood, and other such places. Sometimes they come into homes when it is cold and rainy outside and they are looking for a place to stay out of the weather.

Water bugs live in water. They can’t survive without it! They usually live in ponds and lakes. You might not see them because they move quickly. When they lay eggs, the larvae start to search for food to grow up healthy.

Cockroaches are usually shy. They don’t want to talk and mostly like to be left alone. This might be why they are nocturnal and do most of their work at night, when there is less people. When you turn on the lights and see a cockroach, it will try to run away very fast to find a place to hide.

Waterbugs are more aggressive than houseflies. If you touch them, they will bite you. It is not bad to be bitten by a waterbug, but it can hurt a little bit. Waterbugs are not poisonous and don’t make you sick.

Eating Habits

Cockroaches are scavengers that will eat anything they find. They don’t care about what they eat. But waterbugs have things like wasps, mosquitoes and other little pests to eat. Some waterbugs will be predators of small fish and even frogs!

Some water bugs will try to eat animals that are bigger than them, like baby turtles and snakes. They do this with their powerful limbs and mouthparts. They inject the prey with a liquid poison which makes the inside of the animal much bigger. Then they use a straw to suck up all of its insides!

Pest Level

Cockroaches are more annoying than water bugs. They like to get into homes. Water bugs can also get into homes through the drain or plumbing system, but they won’t want to stay there because they live in the water.

Cockroaches like the Oriental and American kind will come inside homes. They will stay as long as there is water and food.

To get rid of these cockroaches, you need to make sure there is no water or food for them and then they will go away. To keep them from coming back, make sure that there are no entrances and you put a repellent on the house.

As mentioned, water bugs can be a problem. They will come to your house if you have a pool. If the water in your pool is dirty or has algae, they will stay there and they will treat the pool like any other pond or lake that they are used to.

You need to clean out the pool and add chlorine when you do this so that it kills all of the algae and waterbugs leave on their own or else you can help them go by skimming off all of them from the top of the water into a bucket without getting too close so that you don’t get bitten.


Waterbugs are not the same as cockroaches. Waterbug’s names can be thrown around, but we hope that this article has helped you to understand what waterbugs are and what they are different from.