Have you imagined an alternate reality where humans live and bugs cannot? Sadly, that’s not possible because insects are essential to our ecosystem. Still, bugs have to be the most feared and hated creatures on earth. About 25% of the population have actual phobias of spiders and insects.
Now imagine a colony of these creepy-crawlies invading your swimming pool and making it their own safe haven, hanging out and breeding in it. Well, if it has already gotten to that point, you don’t have no one to blame but yourself. Swimming pools need constant upkeep, and failing to do so leads to a slew of other problems like a bug infestation.
But enough pointing fingers. If you have this problem and wonder how you can make these pests go away, you have your work cut out for you. It’s by no means impossible, but it’s not a walk in the park, either. Before knowing how to exterminate water bugs for good, you must know the most common types of bugs first. In other words, you have to learn more about the enemy before planning an attack.
10 Types of Pool Bugs You Should Know About
- Water Boatmen
Water boatmen are these scary-looking, oval-shaped bugs that look more terrifying because of their disproportionately large eyes. If there’s one, the good news is that these insects are actually harmless to humans, and their presence should alert you of algae buildup in your pool.
That’s right. Water boatmen are in your pool to eat algae and lay eggs on them. They detect even the slightest hint of algae buildup faster than a human eye can. The worst part is that these boatmen breed quickly, and if they multiply, they attract other types of pool bugs, like the ones later on this list.
How to get rid of water boatmen:
Since boatmen are attracted to algae, the only thing you have to do is to clean your pool. But if you already see the boatmen in there, you have to manually remove it using a skimmer. The thing is, they are actually pretty docile– they’re not poisonous, nor do they bite– so never fear when you actually have to come in close contact with them.
In most cases, after brushing and vacuuming the pool clean of algae, you need to ensure that the water’s alkalinity is where it needs to be. If it’s not, shock or double shock the pool. Both of the things mentioned– regular pool upkeep and maintaining proper pool chemistry– should be absolutely followed to prevent the boatmen from returning.
If water boatmen are generally docile, backswimmers are the nasty ones. Also called paddle bugs, these insects are predators and are most likely invading your pool to have their version of boatmen buffet. And no, they are not only the insect terminator, but they also bite humans without even thinking twice. Some bitten by backswimmers describe the pain as akin to a bee sting and could last for a couple of weeks if not treated.
How to get rid of backswimmers:
Your best bet is to remove their food supply. Rid your pool of the backswimmers’ insect prey, which entails the need to get rid of algae. The backswimmers also lay eggs on algae, so you’re hitting two birds in a single stone here. It’s the circle of life – if there are water boatmen in your pool, the backswimmers will be there looking for an easy meal. But if you get rid of algae, it won’t attract the boatmen and keeps the backswimmers away.
Springtails are jumping water bugs that need moisture, humidity, and dampness to survive. They probably do not want to live in your pool, but are attracted to moist soil beds and thick vegetation around the pool. The worst thing about springtail infestation is they jump into the pool in hordes, forming a thin layer of insect blanket on the surface.
How to get rid of springtails:
Trimming the dense vegetation around the pool helps a lot. Remember, springtails do not really want to be swimming in your pool, but they are attracted to the moist and humid environment the thickets provide them. They are only there because of the circumstances.
Like springtails, thrips are not attracted to the pool, but to the plants near the water. That’s because plants are their primary food source. Thrips are only 1/20th of an inch in size and could hardly be detected. The only thing that they might be visible is when they stick to you even after getting out of the pool. If you see crawling black dots on your body, chances are, those are thrips.
How to get rid of thrips:
Thrips are not poisonous, and their bites are usually not painful, but nobody wants insects in their pool. The best way to get rid of them is to limit thick vegetation around the pool and put them at least 10 feet away from the water. They are also attracted to artificial lights, so turning those off might do the trick.
- Water Striders
Water striders, also called Jesus bugs, are long-legged black insects that can walk on water. They got into your swimming pool perhaps because of the tiny insects they prey on, such as mites and thrips. They also feed on algae. Water striders are generally harmless, and they do not bite. However, if you don’t do anything about them, they’ll increase in number exponentially.
How to get rid of water striders:
Like most insects, remove the water striders’ food source, and they’ll likely move on to another location. For a small infestation, spraying the area with a soap and water mixture may solve the problem. For more significant outbreaks, clean your pool thoroughly by getting rid of rotten leaves and branches that may be floating around. You may also need to check the pool’s pH levels and adjust accordingly.
Gnats travel in hordes, and that fact alone made them very annoying. It is rare to see gnats around a swimming pool, but they are occasionally attracted to it, especially if they need to find a wet place to lay eggs on. Gnat bites are also very nasty and itchy.
How to get rid of gnats:
Gnats hang out around thick vegetation around the pool, so the fact that they’re in the pool is probably accidental. Cleaning those thickets nearby is your best bet in getting rid of gnats, but you can also do a makeshift bug trap. For instance, you can poke holes in the lids of plastic bottles that contain vinegar and place them near the water. Inquisitive gnats will crawl in via the openings, but will be unable to fly out.
We all have to deal with mosquitoes and it’s an understatement to say they are irritating, literally and figuratively. They lay eggs in stagnant and dirty water, which happens to most pools if you don’t pay attention to them enough.
How to get rid of mosquitoes:
Shocking the pool regularly is a very effective method against mosquitoes. Chlorine-based shock is very potent in killing mosquito larva and prevents them from developing into the bloodsucking savages that we know them to be.
- Water Mites
Do you see tiny red bugs around your pool? Those are water mites. These bugs often appear after rains because they are attracted to damp vegetation, moist soil beds, algae, and larvae. When you see water mites hanging around your pool, you must do something quick, or it’ll turn into a massive infestation.
How to get rid of water mites;
It’s going to be a tall task to manually remove microscopic mites out of your pool, so the best thing you can do is chlorinate your pool. Overall, pool upkeep such as brushing and skimming should also work.
- Diving Beetles
“Diving beetle” sounds like such a cool name, but there is nothing cool about a bug that bites. These insects are ultra-aggressive and have pincers that can penetrate your skin. Although they don’t carry any poison, it’s no fun getting bitten by this beetle.
How to get rid of diving beetles:
Diving beetles get attracted to dirty water and shiny bright lights, both of which can be found in your swimming pool. Therefore, a clean pool is a must to prevent any insect infestation. Skim off leaves and other decaying matter before a diving beetle detects it and calls friends over.
- Giant Water Bugs
Every time you see a descriptive name like “giant” in there, you know these creatures are scary. These bugs can reach up to four inches in size and are the bosses of the water insect world. The giant water bugs are on top of the insect food chain, and they know it. They’d eat other bugs, including all nine types here on this list. Giant water bugs may also become curious and bite humans, which can be a painfully terrifying experience. Their bites are slightly poisonous and are not life-threatening, but the pain will tell you otherwise.
How to get rid of giant water bugs:
Giant water bugs are probably in your pool because it’s dirty and attracts a lot of other insects they consider food. Their preys are attracted to algae, so the first order of business is to clean up the algae. From there, you may need to manually remove other debris, clean, and vacuum the pool. Chlorination and shocking should follow as required.
How to Prevent Pool Bugs Infestation
If you see one or more types of water bugs in your pool, they are probably there for two reasons. One, the dirty water is filled with algae, to which many of these insects feed and lay eggs. Two, to feed on other insects.
In any case, regular pool upkeep is the most important thing you can do to prevent swimming pool bugs from getting into your pool.
These should all be a part of your pool cleaning routine and pool bug prevention tactics:
- Skimming the pool surface to remove bugs, leaves, or other decaying matter
- Chlorination and using algaecide to prevent algae buildup
- Vacuuming to get rid of remaining debris
- Clearing thick vegetation around the pool
- Minimizing the use of lights around the swimming pool
- Clear any signs of water stagnation near the pool
- Cover the pool when it’s not in use
- Keep trash as far away as possible from the pool area
Bug infestation in the pool is a significant headache, but fortunately, it is preventable and workable. But hey, if you have a choice, you’d rather not deal with this problem, so be diligent in cleaning the pool and checking the pH levels every so often.
If there is already an invasion, try to identify the insects and deal with them accordingly. Remember, out of the 10 listed above, only three can inflict serious bite damage – giant water bugs, diving beetles, and backswimmers. You will have to manually remove them using a pool skimmer and cut their food supply by brushing away algae and cleaning the pool of leaves and other decaying matter. Even if you have your work cut out for you, you can’t put a price on the safety and comfort of your family.