Water Bugs vs Cockroaches: How to Tell the Difference & Kill Them

waterbug vs cockroach
source image : commandpest.com

Some insects are hard to tell apart. Like the Oriental Cockroach and the American cockroach which have often been nicknamed as waterbugs. But they are not water bugs, those are a different type of insect.

This article should be able to help clear up any confusion and show you how to tell the difference between two pests that are often found in homes and yards.

What are Water Bugs?

Creatures in the Hemiptera order of bugs are called waterbugs. Examples include Giant water bugs, water boatmen, and water scorpions. Called such because they like to live and thrive where there is lots of water; these pests use their strong legs as paddles to swim through the liquid.

Waterbugs will often try to use any moist area- like a pool, crawl space or even your dirty clothes.

Waterbugs can be found in places where water is present. The creatures are not only attracted to light, but they also bite if humans get too close.

Cockroaches That Are Mistaken To Be Waterbugs

The Oriental Cockroach is the cockroach that people often call a water bug. It makes sense because they like to be in moist, damp places. The Oriental Cockroach comes from Africa and looks shiny black or brown.

Oriental cockroaches are about an inch long. Males have wings and females do not. They cannot fly with the wings they have, even though males can fly but females cannot.

The American Cockroach is another kind of roach. They are often mistaken for water bugs because they like wet places. These roaches are usually around 2 inches long and they’re brownish-red in color.

American cockroaches can eat anything. They might carry germs and diseases, but they cannot hurt you because they do not bite.

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

Cockroaches and water bugs look the same when you first see them, but they are different. Here we will talk about how they are different and what to look for to tell them apart.

Insect Size and Appearance

Cockroaches are bigger than water bugs. Cockroaches can be up to 1 inch long. Water bugs are usually 2 inches long. Some water bug species can grow up to 4 inches long!

There are two types of bugs, the Oriental and American Cockroach. They have a hard shell that is shiny black. Water bugs are different, they have 6 legs and long antennas. Waterbugs can come in green or brown colors, but their top looks like an oval dying leaf.

Water bugs are different from cockroaches. They have claws for grabbing prey and a mouth that can pierce and suck the prey it has caught or bite any enemies when they feel threatened.

If you put these cockroaches and water bugs side by side, you will notice that they don’t look the same. They are both brown but one has wings and the other doesn’t.

Habitat and Behavior

Cockroaches like water, but they can’t live in it. They need water to stay alive, but they can’t be in it. They like to be close to the area where there is water so they will come up from drains and go into dark, damp spaces inside a home such as basements or crawl spaces.

Sometimes cockroaches come inside when it’s cold and rainy. They go where there is food or warmth. They usually like outside, but they come in for winter.

Water bugs need water to survive. They live in ponds and lakes but can be hard to see because they move quickly. Water bugs lay eggs that turn into larvae and hunt for food.

Cockroaches are shyer than many other animals. They try to avoid people and like to be left alone. That’s why they usually only come out at night or when no one is around. If you turn the lights on and you see a cockroach, it tries to run away as fast as possible so that it can find a place to hide.

Waterbugs are more aggressive than some other bugs. They are always looking for food. If you come in contact with them, they will bite you if you get too close to them and it might hurt a little bit. But they aren’t poisonous or dangerous to your health.

Eating Habits

It is possible to tell the difference between a cockroach and a waterbug. Cockroaches eat anything they find on their way. Waterbugs live near water, so that’s where they get their food. Big waterbugs will catch bigger animals like small fish and frogs for their food.

Some water bugs can eat animals that are bigger than them. They do this by using their strong limbs that they use to catch and hold prey and their mouthparts, which pierce into the prey and injects them with a deadly saliva. The saliva turns the animal’s insides into liquid, so then they suck the insides out like a straw to a milkshake. Waterbugs are not something you want to mess with in water because they can hurt you.

Pest Level

Cockroaches are worse than waterbugs because they are more likely to get into your home. Cockroaches can also come in the same ways that waterbugs do, but cockroaches will want to live in a house and go into every room. Waterbugs only come by accident.

Cockroaches enter homes and like to stay in hiding. The American and Oriental cockroach will stay if there is a lot of water and food.

To get rid of these cockroaches, fix the moisture problems and stop them from eating. Then they will leave on their own. You can keep them away forever if you seal off places for them to enter and spread repellent around the house.

Water bugs can be a pest if you have a swimming pool. If your pool is not regularly cleaned and free of algae, waterbugs will come. You should clean your pool with chlorine to kill any algae. Waterbugs will leave or you can help them by skimming them out of the water, but do not get too close so that they don’t bite you!


Waterbugs are different from cockroaches. We hope that this article has helped you understand what waterbugs are and how they differ from cockroaches.