Ditch Water Bugs Fast!

When summer comes around after the long, cold winter, days get longer and hotter, and the swimming pool becomes once again the main center of entertainment, the favorite fun area for friends and family. And for bugs. Most of them are harmless, but some bite, and all make the pool their home unless we find a way of getting rid of them. How do we do this? How do we get rid of water bugs in our pool?

The best way to rid a pool of water bugs is to ensure it isn’t a food source. Killing the existing bugs is a temporary, short-term solution, but keeping the water chemically balanced, preventing algae growth, and removing debris deprive water bugs of nutrition and is a permanent deterrent.

Knowing how water bugs get into the pool should provide us with a method of keeping them out, but unfortunately, it doesn’t. They crawl in, fly in, or get born in the pool. Unless we keep it securely covered at all times (not an option in summer), we’re going to have to find other ways to eradicate them. Let’s examine the possibilities.

How To Get Rid Of Water Bugs In The Pool

Before looking in detail at the best methods to rid the pool of water bugs, it’s worth checking out just what critters we’re dealing with:

  • Backswimmers are named for their ability to swim on their backs, which are shaped like a boat keel. About ½ inch long, they are predators, laying their eggs in algae and feeding on other insects like mosquito larvae and water boatman. They will bite humans as painfully as a bee sting.
  • Water boatman are smaller than backswimmers and named for their oval, boat-shaped bodies and long, oarlike hindlegs. In swimming pools, they feed off algae and other minute organisms, such as mosquito larvae. They do not bite, but, like backswimmers, they can fly.

These two types of water bugs are by far the most common, and because backswimmers eat water boatman, getting rid of one also gets rid of the other. But wait, there’s more!

  • Water Striders, also known as the “Jesus Bug” because they walk on water, are small, with long feathery legs, and are commonly found on the surface of swimming pools. They feed on small insects and other organisms that fall into the water. They do not bite.
  • Giant water bugs are less commonly found in backyard pools but are worth mentioning. They are one of the biggest insects in the US, measuring up to 4½ inches. They feed on insects, small fish, and tadpoles but are known to eat turtles, ducklings, and even snakes. They give a really painful bite if threatened but are not aggressive toward humans.

There are several other insects that might find a home in your pool, including mosquitos, thrips, gnats, and pool mites, but the four I’ve highlighted are the most common. The methods of getting rid of them apply not only to these four but all the other pool bugs, too.

Best Methods For Getting Rid Of Water Bugs

To get rid of water bugs, the best approach is to attack their means of obtaining nutrition. Chlorine and shock treatments are only effective briefly, but to eliminate water bugs forever, one must make the pool an impossible environment for them to survive in. Here’s what steps you need to take:

Skim The Surface Daily

Using a manual rather than a robotic skimmer, you can remove all the debris, algae spores, mosquito larvae, and a few water bugs (remembering that they might fly off) that are floating on the surface. Doing this daily for about 10 minutes is quick and easy and will have a definite impact on your water bug problem.

Brush The Pool Walls And Floor

Algae bloom and grow when their spores attach themselves to the irregular surface of the walls and floor. Brushing with a stiff-bristled steel pool brush (or nylon for a vinyl pool) will remove almost all the algae, which can then be vacuumed to waste, removing the bug’s food source.

Get The Chemistry Right

Treatment will only work permanently if the water in your pool is chemically balanced. The pH should ideally be between 7.4 and 7.6, alkalinity between 80 and 120 ppm, and chlorine under 3 ppm before you do anything else in your efforts to eliminate water bugs.

Shock The Pool

Dosing the pool with double or triple doses of chlorine is the quickest way to kill algae. With this shock treatment, you remove the only reason for water bugs to invade the pool. But as I’ve mentioned, this is only a temporary “quick fix,” and the chlorine will return to normal levels after 24 to 48 hours.

Algaecides Are Long-Acting And Effective

Once you’ve shocked the pool, wait 24 to 48 hours for the chlorine level to return to normal, and then add an algaecide to the water. There are various types of algaecide, but some experts recommend the copper-based metallic ones as the most effective. This is the best way to prevent algae from regrowing, and without algae, you’re likely to be free of water bugs as well.

Tips To Rid Your Pool Of Water Bugs Naturally

The use of chlorine and algaecides is definitely the most effective way to make your pool an unfriendly environment for water bugs, but there are some other non-chemical methods you can add to your armory:

  1. Cover the pool after use, especially overnight. A secure pool cover will stop flying insects and most crawling varieties from getting into the water.
  2. If you don’t use a pool cover, ensure that all poolside lights are switched off, as they attract insects and will draw flying water bugs to the water.
  3. Ensure that there is no stagnant water close to the pool. Check the area around garden faucets and drains where water bugs could breed before moving to the pool.


With all the tasks required of homeowners to keep their pool in perfect condition, getting rid of water bugs is one of the simplest, and it goes hand-in-hand with maintaining the chemistry of the water in perfect balance. Because water bugs feed on and breed in algae, using chlorine and algaecide in combination with regular skimming and brushing will solve your water bug problems once and for all.