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Pest Identifier: The Differences Between Roaches and Water Bugs

It’s easy to tell a cockroach apart from a butterfly, but not all insects are that different. Some types of bugs look creepily similar to others. But just because bugs look alike, doesn’t mean they’re the same. The term “Palmetto Bug” is often used to describe many types of roaches, beetles, and water bugs. This term can cause mass confusion when it comes to taking the right steps to identify and treat these types of bugs. Cockroaches and water bugs are regularly mixed up for one another, even though they’re very different.

Learn the differences in characteristics, habits, and behaviors between cockroaches and water bugs with these tips:

  • Cockroaches are adaptable and drawn to water; water bugs are classified as aquatic insects. Water bugs’ legs act as paddles for them to move through water with ease.
  • Cockroaches scavenge for whatever food they can find, while water bugs hunt and kill their prey.
  • Water bugs have a brownish or blackish color and are large bugs. Their two front legs reach around like pincers when hunting prey. They also have an exoskeleton, which is a type of hard outer “shell” that covers their flying wings. Certain cockroaches, like the American or Oriental cockroach, have some of these same qualities. They’re typically similar in color and have the same armor-like shell. 
  • Cockroaches run and hide as their main defense mechanism. Water bugs also hide or play dead, but they’re known for biting as well. When a water bug bites, it injects digestive enzymes and extracts liquefied tissue. 
  • Water bugs have the ability to fly, primarily between bodies of water. Though many species of cockroaches have wings, only some are able to fly. 
  • Cockroaches prefer to congregate and be in large groups. Water bugs are solitary creatures and are often alone.

American and Oriental cockroaches are heavily mistaken for water bugs. If you do find yourself with a roach infestation, use Combat Source Kill Max for Large Roaches or Combat Source Kill Max Roach Killing Gel. When it comes to exterminating roaches, it’s important to kill straight from the source.

If you’re not sure what kind of cockroaches you’re dealing with, use the Pest Identification portion of our site.