How to Get Rid of Water Bugs in Your Pool and Keep Them Out

Michael Keenan


Pool Troubleshooting

It’s a gloriously warm day – you know, the kind that’s perfect for spending hours doing nothing but lounging about in the pool and soaking in the sun. So you head to your pool, only to find out that you’re not the first one there – several uninvited guests are already having a pool party!

Water bugs will be a problem for most people at some point – they are unavoidable to a large degree. But there are some things we can do to get rid of water bugs in your pool. And prevent water bugs becoming a problem in the first place.

This article will cover what water bugs are, how to identify them, and the best methods for getting rid of and preventing future infestations of water bugs in your swimming pool.

I’ll discuss what types of water bugs commonly invade pools, how to identify them, and the most effective methods for removing and preventing them from coming back. So if you’re frustrated with having a pool full of pests instead of people, this article has all the information you need!

water bugs in swimming pool

Quick Answer:

Water bugs can be a nuisance in your swimming pool and they come in two varieties – water boatmen which don’t bite and backswimmers which do. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to get rid of the water bugs such as skimming the pool, brushing surfaces, shocking the pool and vacuuming again.

Maintaining chemistry levels, daily skimming, using liquid dish detergent and algaecide, keeping your pool covered when not in use and switching off lights will help keep them out! With a little bit of effort you’ll be able to enjoy your swimming pool bug-free.

What Are Water Bugs?

The chlorine, pool stabilizer and other chemicals in your pool do a pretty good job of keeping your pool water clean but when it comes to bugs you need some other techniques.

However, you know what they say about trash and treasure – what may throw off some things may attract others. Water bugs, unfortunately, belong to the latter category, chilling, eating and recreating in your pool.

As the name suggests, water bugs live in not just pools, but all bodies of water, such as ponds and other natural water bodies. Two types of water bugs especially, seem to love swimming pools, thriving in them – water boatmen and backswimmers.

Needless to say, these bugs breeding in your pool is not only gross but also unhealthy; therefore, eviction is a must.

I have a series of article aimed at getting rid of or keeping different pests out of your swimming pool:

Some might appear quite funny – an article about peeing in a pool being dangerous at first forces a smile. But in reality these things can be unhygienic at best and often pose a threat to your health! On with the water bugs!

Water Boatmen

Slim and oval in shape, these bugs, also known as corixidae, have a bark that’s much worse than their bite – in fact, they don’t even have a bite, so to speak!

Generally brown or greenish-brown in color, with large eyes, these bugs grow to be around half an inch long and get their name from their rear hair-fringed legs that help them paddle and stay afloat.

These bugs can also fly, but again, don’t let that freak you out, as these bugs are neither poisonous nor given to biting.

Though these bugs aren’t really harmful, having them around is just gross. Water boatmen can be beneficial since they feast on stuff that you try to keep out of your pool (such mosquito larvae, algae and water microorganisms), but that doesn’t lessen the gross factor!

water boatmen in pool


Earning their name from the fact that they swim on their backs, these bugs have oar-like legs, similar to water boatmen, except that they’re longer.

Backswimmers are the bad guys – though they do feed on other insects (including water boatmen) and can keep your pool clean-ish, they will bite you any chance that they get. Though their bite isn’t poisonous, it can really hurt, much like a bee sting.

Backswimmers are long and thin, generally growing no more than half an inch long and like water boatmen, can fly.

Since they look extremely similar to water boatmen, many folks confuse the two – unless you know your bugs really well, the only way to distinguish is to see whether they’re swimming upside down. If they are, it’s an attack of the nasty backswimmers!

Getting Rid of Waterbugs

Fortunately, getting rid of water bugs isn’t all that hard. The most obvious solution to any pest nuisance is to remove their source of food and make the pool inhospitable for them. In this case that means getting rid of algae and maintaining the pool.

The following steps will help you get rid of water bugs:

Skimming the Pool: Neither of the bugs live in the depths; since they hang out on the surface, a net skimmer will help get rid of them.

Brushing the Pool: Algae and scum, as we’ve established already, are the foods of choice for water bugs. These can form on the surfaces of your pool, so ensure that you regularly scrub down these surfaces to prevent the formation of any algae spores waiting to bloom. After skimming your pool, brush the surfaces.

Vacuuming the Pool: If you’ve already skimmed and brushed the pool to get rid of debris and algae, use a vacuum and gather up anything loose that’s left behind on the surfaces. Find out what really causes algae in your pool here.

Shocking the Pool: If you’re shocking your pool, this means that you’re adding chlorine / non-chlorine chemicals to the pool to increase the level of ‘free chlorine’ in the pool, to kill or prevent the formation and growth of contaminants such as bacteria, chloramine and algae which can cause green pool water.

Using calcium hypochlorite to give your pool a shock will complete the process of killing anything left behind from the previous pool-cleaning steps.

Balancing Pool Chemistry: 24 hours after the shock, check your pool’s pH, alkaline and chlorine levels. All three need to be in balance and a pool chemistry kit will help you test and set this balance right, if required.

Using Sodium bisulfate is one way of keeping your Ph levels in check.

Vacuuming the Pool Again: Though this isn’t necessary, you can vacuum the pool again to ensure that there’s absolutely nothing left behind for water bugs to feed on. Vacuuming the pool again also helps in case the shocking process killed anything that you hadn’t managed to kill.

water bugs

Keeping Water Bugs Out of Your Pool

When it comes to keeping your pool in top condition a good pool maintenance program is almost always the answer to any problem! Prevention is always easier than a cure so follow these good practices and help prevent waterbugs becoming a problem in your swimming pool:

Maintaining the Right Chemistry Levels: The most important thing to do to keep away water bugs is to maintain the right chemistry levels in the pool. This discourages the growth of algae and eliminates the bugs’ main food source.

The pH level should be between 7.4 and 7.6, chlorine between 1.0 and 3.0 ppm and alkalinity between 80 and 140 ppm.

Daily Pool Skimming: With a pool skimming net, skimming your pool daily gets much easier. This removes any debris and algae spores from the pool surface and prevents water bugs from breeding.

Liquid Dish Detergent: This may sound a little incredulous, but a combination of dish detergent and water is an excellent way to repel and even kills bugs naturally. The soap changes the water’s surface tension, making it hard for bugs to float on the water. You can also spray a little around the pool area for extra efficiency.

Algaecide Use: Like a pesticide, algaecide keeps away algae and bugs.

Keeping Your Pool Covered: When you aren’t using your pool, keep it covered. This is one of the most effective ways to keep out unwanted visitors and their food source.

Maintaining the Pool Pump: If your pool has been seeming quite murky, or if the chemistry in the pool refuses to stay balanced, the problem may lie in your pump. Check for any buildup or mechanical problems in the pump and clean the filters regularly, too.

Keep the Pool Lights Off: Just as porch lights attract tons of insects, pool lights underwater attract insects.


What are the best methods for removing water bugs from a pool?

The best methods for removing water bugs from a pool are manual removal and the use of a skimmer net.

Are there any natural remedies that can be used to get rid of water bugs?

Yes, you can use natural remedies such as diatomaceous earth or essential oils like eucalyptus oil to help get rid of water bugs.

Is it safe to use chemical treatments to get rid of water bugs in a pool?

Chemical treatments can be used to get rid of water bugs, but they may be toxic to people and other organisms so caution should be taken when using them around swimming pools or any open body of water.

Are there any other steps I should take to keep water bugs out of my pool?

Other steps you should take include regularly cleaning out your pool filter and checking for standing water near your pool that could attract more insects into the area.

In Summary

Water bugs can be all kinds of annoying, unhealthy, dangerous (at least in the case of the backswimmers) and just plain gross. The key to keeping your pool clean of these bugs is to keep it free of algae and you can achieve this by keeping your pool clean.

Keep the pool chemistry in balance, too. It’s important to keep your pool covered when you’re not using it, as well as maintain the pump and turn off any pool lights. This will help prevent waterbugs from taking up residence in your pool.

Try to skim your pool daily, if nothing else, and you’re sure to see the bug-free results that you want!

michael keenan author

Author - Michael Keenan

I'm Michael Keenan the owner and creator of the Outdoor Care Guide. I'm a trained horticulturist with over 30 years of experience in pool care, plant care, and landscape care! Seemed like a good idea to share - I think I can make your life easier and save you some time and money!