How To Tell Cockroaches And Waterbugs Apart?

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Cockroaches and waterbugs are two of the most common household pests. While they may look similar, there are some key differences that can help you tell them apart.

Cockroaches are usually dark brown or black and have long, slender bodies. Waterbugs, on the other hand, are brown or black and have a more rounded body. Cockroaches also have wings, while waterbugs do not. Let’s get to know more about these two in detail.

How to Tell Cockroaches and Waterbugs Apart?

How to Tell Cockroaches and Waterbugs Apart

Roach vs waterbug are often confused because they look alike. However, there are big differences between the two when it comes to identification.

Let us discover more about cockroaches and water bugs.


The first and biggest difference between roach and waterbug is the terminology used for the two insects. I think it is safe to say that there is some sort of confusion in the usage of the names of these two creatures.

In particular, the terms “cockroach” and “waterbug” are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different creatures.

A cockroach is a type of beetle that lives in warm climates, preferably on land. On the other hand, waterbugs are true bugs that live in water or moist environments.

Having said that, it is important to note that the term ‘water bug’ is commonly used to describe several different kinds of bugs within the insect order Hemiptera. This encompasses the American cockroach, the Oriental cockroach, and the water strider.

Several roach species are incorrectly referred to as waterbugs, including reddish-brown and shiny black cockroaches.

Habitat and Food

water bug in water

As their name suggests, waterbugs live in water and can be found in a variety of habitats, including ponds, lakes, rivers, and streams. They are also often found in sewer systems and septic tanks.

Cockroaches, on the other hand, generally prefer warm and dry environments. Even though they are capable of swimming, they prefer to stay on land.

Cockroaches are scavenger insects and opportunistic, meaning their diet differs from waterbugs. These scavengers eat anything they can find, from decaying organic matter to live fish.

At the same time, waterbugs are omnivorous and are known to be more aggressive than cockroaches. They are also cannibals and will hunt and prey on other small animals.

Appearance and Bite Risk

cockroach in house

Water bug vs cockroach may look similar to the untrained eye. This is owing to the fact that they both have a flattened body shape, six legs, and are commonly brown or black in color.

However, there are certain key distinctions between the two. Cockroaches have two antennae, while waterbugs only have one.

Cockroaches are typically brown or black in color, while waterbugs can also be green in color. Another difference is that cockroaches have wings, while waterbugs do not.

There is no confirmation that cockroaches bite people. However, they may spread disease if they come into contact with food or surfaces where people eat or drink. Whereas on the other hand, a water bug may bite if disturbed.

Extermination Methods

Cockroach Periplaneta Americana Imago

There are many ways to get rid of cockroaches and waterbugs, but the most effective methods vary depending on the insects.

Cockroach extermination typically focuses on using baits, traps, or poison, while waterbug control focuses more on reducing unnecessary water sources to deter these aquatic creatures.

There are various types of cockroaches, and they can be more difficult to exterminate as compared to water bugs. Cockroach control includes:

  • Identifying the pests
  • Using hygienic sanitation practices like removing garbage and dirty dishes,
  • Setting up traps or baits
  • Using insecticides

There are a few telltale signs that you may need to call in a professional exterminator to deal with cockroaches or waterbugs.

If you see a large number of cockroaches or waterbugs having access to your home, or if they seem to be coming out of specific areas (like the drains), then it’s time to take action.

You can try extermination methods on your own, but if they don’t work or the infestation is too large, you may need to call in a professional.

Do water bugs fly?

There are a few different types of water bugs, but they all share some common characteristics, one of which is that In the final stage of their development, water bugs become equipped with wings and are able to fly.

Interestingly, water bugs are known to fly towards artificial light sources. This is why you might see them congregating around street lamps and porch lights.

Do Cockroaches fly?

Cockroaches are insects that have two pairs of wings. They have a front pair of wings that are membranous, and they use them for flying. They can also glide short distances if they fall from a height.

However, despite the presence of wings, most cockroaches cannot fly, while a few species can. The Asian and brown cockroaches can both fly well. This is because they have wings that are not flattened like other cockroach species.

Whereas the American cockroaches are a species that commonly uses their wings to glide. They will often use this flying motion when they’re escaping danger or trying to get to a food source.

Interesting Facts About water bugs vs cockroaches

Waterbugs are Bigger. 

Adult Giant Water Bug Of The Genus Lethocerus

Waterbugs are typically bigger than domestic cockroaches. They can range in size from 1/2 inch to 2 inches long. They also have a characteristic broad, flat shape.

The American roach is the largest of the waterbugs. They can grow up to 2 inches long and are often mistaken for cockroaches. On the other hand, German cockroaches are tiny and rarely grow larger than the surface of a penny.

Thus, waterbugs, while similar in appearance to cockroaches, tend to be a bit bigger.

You May Find Water Bugs and Cockroaches Infesting Different Places. 

Water bugs and domestic roaches are two types of roaches that you may find infesting your home. Domestic roaches are the most common type of cockroach, and they thrive in warm, humid environments.

They are generally found in our kitchens and storage areas like pantries, as they are attracted to food and moisture.

On the other hand, water bugs live in areas with lots of moisture. They can be found in bathrooms, basements, and outdoors near ponds or streams.

It is slightly more convenient to tell which bug you have found in your home if you know the location where it was spotted. It is important to differentiate between these two types of insects, as their treatment methods vary.

Waterbug Droppings are Different. 

Waterbug droppings are typically cylindrical and slightly curved. They also have a ridged surface. Cockroach droppings, on the other hand, are smaller and more rounded. They also are generally darker in color.

Water bug droppings are different in shape and size from cockroach droppings. They are also black in color, making them easy to find.

How to get rid of water bugs and cockroaches?

Waterbugs, also mistakenly called cockroaches, are common pests that can be found in both indoor and outdoor environments. They are notorious for spreading dangerous bacteria around your house, so it is important to get rid of them as soon as possible.

There are three main ways to get rid of water bugs: which are –

Clean up

Cockroaches and waterbugs are two of the most common types of bugs. They are both pests, but they can be eliminated with different methods. Roaches can be eliminated by a clean home, – as they thrive in dirty environments.

On the other hand, waterbugs are found in the cleanest of places, too. By understanding their habits and preferences, you can better protect your home from these unwanted guests. Avoid collection of water at a particular place in order to avoid waterbugs.

Use baits or natural cockroach killers.

There are a few different ways to get rid of water bugs. One is to use chemical baits, which can be effective but also harmful to pets and children. Another option is to use natural roach repellents such as boric acid, which is less harmful but may take longer to work.

If you’re taking on the task DIY-style, persistence and patience are key. In short, if you’re not persistent, you will fail to get rid of these pests from your house.

Call in backup: hire a professional.

professional pest control

If you’re facing a large infestation of cockroaches or waterbugs, it’s best to call in a professional pest control service. They have the tools and experience to get rid of the problem as quickly as possible.

Final Thought

In conclusion, cockroach vs waterbug are pests that need to be exterminated. These pests can make people sick and trigger allergies and asthma. You might see a roach or a water bug, but it is important to know the difference in order to exterminate them properly.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.