Neglect your swimming pool for long or don’t maintain it properly, there’ll soon be creatures known as water bugs or swimming pool bugs in your pool.
In this guide, you’ll find out ten types swimming pool that infest swimming pools.
These water bugs make your swimming pool home unless you eliminate the conditions that attract these bugs.
The worst part? Some of these bugs can leave a nasty bite on you while you’re swimming in the pool.
Their bites will make you writhe in pain for days to come.
A few of these bugs are huge and can even rip open your skin with their mandibles.
And some of them tiny pool bugs that make matters worse by attracting their predators to your pool.
So, keep reading to find out what these water bugs are, how do they get into your pool (and why), and how to get rid of these swimming pool bugs.
Springtails In Swimming Pool
Springtails are accidental landers on your pool.
Springtails are harmless jumping bugs that live in damp areas.
They live and breed in places like decaying organic matter, lush green vegetation, and wet soil beds.
These places provide them food to eat and the moisture they need to survive.
And, if you’ve got thick vegetation around your pool with moist soil beds, then springtails can be there in plenty.
The end result? These springtails around your pool will jump in your pool.
During summer months when the weather outside is dry, it’s pretty likely that you’ll see springtails floating on the pool water.
The worst part is that they land up in hordes on your pool, giving your pool a thin layer of bugs crawling on the water surface.
You wouldn’t like to take a dip in a pool like that.
The denser and the closer the vegetation is to your swimming pool, the more would be the springtails in your pool.
Water Boatman Bugs In Pool
Unlike the springtails, the water boatmen bugs (also known as oar bugs) are not accidental landers in your pool.
Water boatmen bugs are bugs that live in swimming pools. And they can spread pretty fast if you don’t get rid of them.
These water bugs in pool infest your pool because of two main reasons – to feed and to lay eggs.
You must be wondering what’s there in your pool for the water boatmen bugs to eat? It’s algae.
Water boatmen bugs can detect the algae in the pool before you can.
Even small algae formations in your pool, which you can easily overlook, attract the water boatmen bugs to your pool.
And these water bugs not just eat the algae. They lay eggs in algae too.
The reason for water boatmen to lay eggs in the algae of your pool is that that algae become the constant food supply for baby water boatmen bugs.
Water boatmen live in ponds and stagnant water surfaces.
Another often overlooked reason for water boatmen bugs in pool is the artificial lights around the pool.
Water boatmen bugs are strong fliers and artificial light attracts them.
So, whilst they’re buzzing around the light near the pool, it’s quite likely that many of them will land up in the pool, especially when there’s algae formation in your pool.
Once the water boatmen bugs are in your pool, they’ll breed and lay eggs in the algae. And the baby water boatmen bugs attracts other bugs that eats them.
And one of those bugs is the backswimmer.
Backswimmers In Pool
Backswimmers, also known as paddle bugs, are predators that swim upside down in the pool.
They hunt the adult water boatmen bugs, their larvae and other tiny bugs in pools which you’ll get to know in a minute.
So, if you’ve a buggy pool, then backswimmers floating on your pool is only a matter of time. It’s because the bugs in your pool will attract the backswimmers.
Like the water boatmen, the backswimmers can also fly and artificial lights around the pool attracts them too.
As the name suggests, these bugs swim on their back with their inner sides of the body at the top.
These bugs are quite clumsy when they’re not in the water.
Outdoors, the backswimmers live in the lakes, streams, and ponds feeding on little fish, bugs, and tadpoles.
Backswimmers have three sets of legs. They use the first set of legs, which is near their mouth, for stabbing their prey.
Backswimmers use the second pair of legs to hold their prey while eating it. And finally, the third pair of legs, which are the strongest and the longest, are meant for swimming.
They use the third pair of legs to propel themselves forward while they’re in the water.
Backswimmers are pool bugs that bite humans.
They use their strong and tubular mouth, which is known as proboscis, to leave a painful bite on you.
People bitten by backswimmers have said that the biting pain is more painful than bee stings.
And that pain can last for a couple of weeks if you don’t treat it.
Giant Water Bugs In Swimming Pool
This bug is scary. And it looks terrifying too.
Giant water bugs, also known as toe-biters, alligator ticks, and alligator fleas in Florida, is the most lethal bug that can ever get in your swimming pool.
Giant water bugs come from the family of Belostomatidae.
In the wild, you’ll find them in marshes and slow-moving streams.
Giant water bugs are tan, oval-shaped, and an adult giant water bug grows up to 4 inches in length.
Giant water bugs have flat hind legs that paddle to swim.
And when it comes to predators in your swimming pool, the giant water bug is at the top of the food chain.
It means that if there are other swimming pool bugs in your pool, then the giant water bugs can get into your pool.
But thankfully, these bugs don’t get into your pool in large numbers.
Giant water bugs in the pool will eat all the other bugs, including the water boatman, backswimmers, and larvae of all types of bugs.
But you don’t want a giant water bug bite. Its bite is the most painful of all the swimming pool bugs in this guide.
Giant water bugs also carry poison, though not life-threatening for humans, that can cause severe pain when they bite.
Giant water bugs use this poison to inject it into their prey to paralyze it.
Ironically, the giant water bugs are scared of humans.
If they encounter you in the pool, their first defense mechanism will be to play dead.
They’ll also eject fluid from their anus that reeks of a smell.
But if you poke it or ignore it in this condition and accidentally step on the giant water bug, then you’re up for some nasty bite.
The light around your pool attracts these giant water bugs. That’s why they’re also known as electric bugs because the electric bulbs draw them.
The giant water bugs can also hide in the moist and damp areas around the pool or the bushes and shrubs surrounding the pool.
Giant water bugs will remain idle on the pool floor most of the time.
Dytiscidae (Predaceous Diving Beetles) – Water Beetle In Swimming Pool
If there’s one bug that’s really a water beetle, it’s the predaceous diving beetle.
The predaceous diving beetle is a swimming pool bug common in most parts of the US, especially in the south and southeast.
An adult predaceous diving beetle is 1.5 inches, oval-shaped, has a shiny, smooth back.
It comes in three colors – brownish, black, or olive.
The predaceous diving beetle likes to remain in the water most of the time.
The adult ones have fully developed wings that make them good fliers.
The diving beetle will use the reflection of moonlight to locate the water sources. And they usually fly at night.
This habit makes them a common type of swimming pool bug because the reflection of pool lights from the pool’s water surface attracts these water beetles.
That also makes them land on shiny solid wet surfaces.
When near the swimming pool or any other water body, these diving beetles will absorb oxygen before diving in the water.
The diving beetles have a unique way of swimming that distinguishes them from other swimming pool bugs.
They pump their hind legs simultaneously, not alternately as most other swimming pool bugs do.
These diving beetles also leave a painful bite. And they’re common in dirty swimming pools.
But it’s not just the big bugs that can infest your swimming pool
There are tiny bugs in pool that you can easily overlook till their numbers in your pool overshoot.
Thrips In Swimming Pool
Thrips are tiny plant-eating bugs that feed on plants near water sources.
Your swimming pool isn’t a typical habitat for thrips to live, but they can land up in your pool when there’s thick vegetation at the perimeter of your pool.
Thrips are tiny, only 1/20th of an inch, and it’s hard to detect them on the pool’s water surface.
But you can detect them stuck on your body when you get out of the pool. Thrips look like tiny brownish-black dots crawling on your body.
So, to keep your pool free from thrips and other types of bugs, don’t let any plantation around the perimeter of the pool grow.
As we mentioned earlier, keep a distance of at least 10 feet between the pool’s perimeter and the plant beds.
And do thrips bite? Yes, they do.
But thrips bite isn’t painful, and it doesn’t carry any infection. Thrips don’t suck blood either.
Thrips will bite you to check out if you’re a plant or not.
Thrips are also attracted to light that cause them to enter homes. But a through vacuum cleaning is good enough to get rid of thrips in home.
Jesus Bugs In Pool
Also known as water striders, Jesus bugs are small black bugs with long legs on the pool water’s surface. These bugs can walk on the surface of the water.
Jesus bugs are harmless to humans. And they don’t bite either. But their numbers tend to increase if you don’t get rid of them fast.
Water striders’ presence indicates the presence of other bugs tiny bugs in your pool, such as pool mites and thrips. It’s because the water strider eats them and the algae.
It’s quite common for a completely clean pool to have these Jesus bugs walking on the water’s surface of your pool.
Even if you’re in the pool with these bugs walking around you’re safe. And no, Jesus bugs don’t get inside your ears or nose while you’re swimming in the pool.
Water Mites (Pool Mites) In Pool – The Tiny Black Or Reddish-Orange Bugs In Pool
No homeowner is stranger to the sightings of little red bugs in and around pool. These are pool mites, which are also known as water mites.
Water mites or pool mites become quite rampant in pools after rains, especially when you leave your pool uncovered.
They’re tiny and microscopic, but when their numbers increase they can be visible.
Some pool mites may appear as yellow or reddish-orange depending on the life stage they’re in. But as they mature, they look like tiny black bugs in pool after rains.
These mites live on damp vegetation and wet soil beds around the pool. They’re attracted to your pool when your pool has algae and larvae floating on the pool.
Pool mites food source is the algae.
Pool mites eat algae and larvae of other bugs in the pool. So, pool mites do a favor to your pool by eating away the larvae of water bugs in the pools.
But there’s a problem with pool mites.
Pool mites multiply quickly. When their numbers increase, these mites become a nuisance in and around your pool.
The worst part is that their presence will invite other bugs like backswimmers that eats them.
But pool mites are not harmless to you and they don’t bite.
Gnats In Swimming Pool
Gnats, not typically a pool bug, but given their likelihood to lay eggs on wet surfaces, they’re attracted to your pool.
The worst part with gnats is that they move in swarms that make it a nuisance around your pool.
Gnats are mosquito look-alikes that swarm around the vegetation around your pool. And when they do, chances are, many of them would land up in your pool.
Swarm of gnats will look like yellowish-orange bugs hovering over your pool. But most of the gnats will appear as black.
Also, female gnats bite a human. They need human blood to breed and to lay their eggs.
But their bites can rupture your skin, and the bite is itchy and a bit painful.
But thankfully, you don’t have to do anything different to get rid of these tiny bugs in the pool.
Later in the post you’ll find out how to get rid of swimming pool bugs that will work on gnats too.
Mosquitoes In Swimming Pool
Mosquitoes in swimming pool are a common especially when the swimming pool is lying idle, dirty, and uncovered for days.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs on stagnant water. And when the pool is unused for long, then mosquitoes will lay eggs on the water surface in the pool.
The mosquito larvae then attracts other bugs like the backswimmers to your pool. These larvae in pool become quite evident if you leave the pool uncovered and dirty for extended periods.
So, if you don’t maintain your pool then there can be an entire food chain of bugs living and infesting in your pool.
4 Swimming Pool Bugs That Bite
There are three swimming pool bugs that can bite you. These are giant water bug, backswimmers, water boatman, and predaceous diving beetles.
Giant Water Bug Bite
Giant water bugs’ bites are the most painful. If it bites you, you’ll experience intense pain on the bitten area.
Giant water bugs inject their toxic saliva that causes the pain. The saliva to paralyze their prey before the giant water bug eats it.
Backswimmers And Water Boatmen Bugs
If there’s any bug in the list that is the most territorial, it’s the backswimmers. Backswimmers hate it when you or anything else is in the pool.
Their instant reaction will be to bite you if you swim too close to them in the pool.
Backswimmers bite feels like a sting. When it bites you, you’ll feel like a sharp needle has penetrated your skin. That’s why backswimmers are also known as water bees.
And yes, backswimmers bite is pretty painful as well. The pain will last for a couple of days to a week.
But the best part is that backswimmers are not poisonous.
Unlike the backswimmers, the water boatmen will not bite you if you get close to them.
However, there have been cases of water boatmen biting humans when the bugs felt cornered or acted defensively.
Water boatmen have long and strong mouth parts that can penetrate your skin. And they’re prone to bite you if you try to handle them.
Predaceous Diving Beetle Bite
Predaceous diving beetles are aggressive predators and they can also bite humans.
They’ve got two pincers that can penetrate your skin. And their bite is quite painful too.
But these beetles are also not poisonous.
How To Get Rid Of Bugs In Swimming Pool
Now that you know how do water bugs get in your pool, it’s time to take steps to get rid of them
You’re about to learn a 7-step guide to kill swimming pool bugs and make your pool bug-free forever. These steps are fail-proof to secure your pool from water bugs, no matter what the bugs are.
The best part?
You can do it all by yourself!
Here’s a step-by-step plan on how to get rid of water bugs in pool.
STEP #1 – Skim The Pool To Remove Bugs On The Water’s Surface
Use a pool skimmer to skim the pool on the water’s surface.
Swimming pool skimmers are handheld devices that pool owners use to collect the debris and bugs on the water’s surface.
But if you’ve got a vast pool, then there are automatic and robotic skimmers available.
Automatic skimmers have a propeller that makes the skimmer move forward. The hose at the front sucks in the debris on the pool’s water surface.
Another type of pool skimmer is the robotic pool skimmer.
Robotic pool skimmers either run on solar power or battery power. And they work like robotic vacuum cleaners.
Robotic pool skimmers are expensive than automatic pool skimmers, but they’re the best cleaners and they last the longest.
But for an average size pool, manual skimmers are handy. They do not need a power source, and you can skim the pool easily and quickly with your hand.
Also, clean the pool filters. There are debris that get stuck on the pool filters which prevents proper filtration of the pool water.
Debris stuck on the pool filters for extended periods can cause harm to overall filtration system of your pool.
Step #2 – Use Shock Chlorination To Clean Organic Matter In Your Pool
Organic matter like algae attracts springtails and water boatman, which in turn attracts the backswimmers.
So, the second step is to remove the organic matter in your pool.
To do that, you’ll have to use chlorine tablets.
The question is, how much chlorine you need to add to your swimming pool?
The safety standards say that chlorine content in the swimming pool should be between 1 PPM and 3 PPM.
PPM is an abbreviation of parts per million, and scientifically it’s expressed as mg/L or milligrams per liter.
Shock chlorination means you use a more significant chlorine dose in your pool to kill the organic matter.
After that, you need to wait for the chlorine level to subside to safe levels. In other words, you’d need to wait to let alkaline or pH levels get back to normal.
To do shock chlorination, you’d need to increase the chlorine levels in your pool to 5 PPM to 7 PMM.
The question is, how much chlorine you need to add to your swimming pool?
To raise the chlorine level by 1 PPM, you’d need 0.00013 ounces of chlorine per gallon of water.
To increase the chlorine level from 5 PPM to 7 PPM, add 0.00065 ounces to 0.001 ounces of chlorine per gallon of water.
(For example, if your swimming pool holds 1000 gallons of water, add 0.65 ounces to 1 ounce of chlorine in the pool.)
After 48 to 50 hours, the chlorine level in your pool will fall from 1 PPM to 3 PPM.
Few Words Of Caution –Don’t get inside the pool before the chlorine level reaches a safe level. It’s important that the water chemistry of your pool or the alkalinity levels is safe before you use the pool.
STEP #3 – Use Algaecide To Kill Any Living Algae In Your Pool
Algae attracts pool mites. (We’ll talk about pool mites in the tiny bugs in the pool section.)
So, after the shock chlorination, it’s time to get rid of algae.
To do that, use an algaecide.
Algaecide contain calcium hypochlorite that helps in eliminating the algae from your pool.
Most manufacturers mention the amount of algaecide and pool chemicals you’d need for getting rid of the algae. The amount you’d need depends on the volume of water in your pool.
Therefore, before using it, read the instructions on the algaecide bottle.
Point to remember – Use algaecide once the chlorine levels in your pool are at safe levels.
So, you’d have to wait for at least 48 hours after shock chlorination to use an algaecide in your pool.
Step #4 – Clean Your Pool To Remove Debris
Now it’s time to clean the pool’s floor.
You’d need a few pieces of equipment to do that.
You’d need a pool vacuum head, a telescoping pole, a vacuum hose, and a skim vac (vacuum plate)
The manual process is quite arduous and time-consuming.
Check out the video below to get detailed step-by-step instructions on vacuuming your pool.
Also, scrub the pool ladders and liners with a brush so that you remove any hidden dirt and microscopic bugs in the thin gaps.
These thin gaps are the places that support the algae growth around your pool, which attract a lot of bugs that feed on them.
STEP #5 – Remove Vegetation From Around The Pool
No matter how many times you treat your pool with chlorine or algaecide, water bugs would be back if there’s vegetation around the perimeter of the pool.
At least maintain a distance of 10 feet between the plants and the pool to prevent future reinfestation in your pool.
If there are any overhanging branches of trees on the pool, chop them off.
Bugs can use these branches to get into your pool.
Spray an insecticide spray like Reclaim IT 6-7 feet away from the perimeter of the pool.
Reclaim IT spray is a multiple bug eliminator that works is effective on more than 50 types of bugs, including water bugs.
STEP #6 – Keep Lights At Least 10 Feet Away From The Pool
As you know by now, lights attract water bugs like water boatman and backswimmers.
Maintain a distance of at least 10 feet between the lights and the perimeter of the pool.
That would deter water bugs from nesting in your pool.
STEP #7 – Remove Any Water Stagnation Near The Pool In Your Yard Or Garden
Mosquitoes lay eggs and breed on stagnant water.
If there’s any stagnant water around your pool, then it’s only a matter of time that mosquitoes will start breeding in your pool.
So, fill up the waterholes and fix water leakages in your yard or garden.
It’ll go a long way to get rid of mosquitoes not only in your pool but also in your home.
Backswimmers Vs. Water Boatman
In this section, we’ll give you the differences between backswimmers and water boatman.
Given their shape and color, people consider both water boatman and backswimmers as water beetles. In fact, water beetle is a generalized name given to any beetle-shaped bug that floats on the water surface.
Also, lack of clarity in the differences between water boatman and backswimmers has caused many people to get into the pool only to get painful bites from backswimmers.
Unfortunately, backswimmers are more common in pools than water boatman.
It’s because a pool with algae and other types of swimming pool bugs attracts more backswimmers than water boatman.
Physically, both backswimmers and water boatman look similar.
Both are oval-shaped with long hind legs that they use row on the surface of the water.
The significant differences lie in the color of these bugs.
Backswimmers have streaks of brown, black, red, white, and yellow on their back. In contrast, water boatman are brown with patches of black lines that give them a rough appearance.
The front legs of backswimmers are small and look like the legs of an average bug.
But the water boatman’s front legs have a slightly shovel-shaped ending. They use it to scoop out the algae and shove it in its mouth.
You’d also notice a beak on the head of the backswimmer (the backswimmer’s head looks like a bee’s head).
The beak lets them hunt and bites its prey.
The water boatman don’t have a beak. Its mouth is a part of its head as it feeds itself with its front legs.
There’s also a significant difference in where you can find them.
Backswimmers would float on the water surface, constantly looking for larvae and other mosquitoes to eat.
So, if you see black bugs in pool floating on the water’s surface then they can be backswimmers. Backswimmers are water bugs in pool that swim.
On the other hand, the water boatman are at the bottom of the pool looking for algae and other micro-organisms to eat.
That makes them hard to spot as they can camouflage themselves well under the debris at the bottom of the pool.
Water bodies in your home, like swimming pools, ponds, and even aquariums can get bugs if you’re not careful.
Swimming pools attract at least one of the following bugs-
- Water boatman
- Giant Water Bugs
- Predaceous Diving Beetles
- Jesus bugs or Water Striders
- Tiny red pool mites or Water mites
Out of the ten, four of them leave a very nasty and painful bite.
The three water bugs that bite are backswimmers, giant water bugs, water boatmen, and the predaceous diving beetles.
Mosquitoes, thrips, jesus bugs, pool mites, and gnats are four tiny bugs in pool that also play a role in attracting the big water bugs.
Lack of regular pool maintenance and not cleaning the pool are the reasons for swimming pool bugs.
This post also has a 7-step guide that not only keeps your pool swanky clean, but also gets rid of the bugs in pool.
But do you know that ants can be in your pool too?
To know more, read our post on clusters of ants in a pool to know why ants get into your pool and what you can do to get rid of them.
Dr. Thomas Orbert, the Microbial Maestro, dances with the tiniest of creatures as an entomologist extraordinaire! With a PhD in entomology, his passion lies in unraveling the secret symphonies of insect-microbe interactions. From minuscule marvels to captivating complexities, Dr. Orbert unveils the hidden world of bugs, igniting curiosity one buzz at a time!