Water boatman bugs, or water boatmen bugs, are swimming pool pests that are most common in swimming pools across the US.
These water bugs become active starting from the spring months when they look out for new water sources to live.
And that’s the time when water boatman bugs land up in your pool.
But there’s more to it.
What are water boatman bugs? Why do these bugs get in your pool? What draws water boatman bugs to your pool? And how to get rid of water boatman bugs in pool?
Keep reading to know the answers of these questions. Plus, a lot more.
What Are Water Boatman Bugs?
Water boatman bugs are water bugs, meaning that they’re aquatic bugs, belonging to the
family Corixidae in the order Hemiptera (true bugs).
In the wild water boatman bugs live in ponds and in still waters near lakes and streams with vegetation in them like algae.
Algae, and other organic debris in stagnant water like dead plants, are the food source for water boatman bugs.
Water boatman bugs suck the juices of algae, plants, and detritus growing in and around the water.
However, their diet also include mosquito larvae, mosquito eggs, small fish, and even tadpoles
When it comes to it’s size and shape, water boatman bugs are flat and oval. They’re dark greyish to brown in color and have a shiny back that makes them stand out.
A fully-matured adult water boatman bug grows up to 0.5 inches in length.
They’ve got two sets of legs, one pair at the front and one at the rear. The hind legs are long and oar-shaped with hairy bristles at the end of the leg.
The back legs are longer than the front legs. They swim by paddling the long back legs.
Water boatman bugs have tube-like mouthparts that help them to suck out the juices from the algae and organic debris inside the water.
Water boatman bugs lay eggs inside the water. They’ll stick their eggs on underwater plants and debris.
They also make sounds. And it’s made by the male water boatman bugs as a mating call to attract the females.
The male water boatman bug make the sound by scrubbing it’s reproductive organ against the abdomen. The sound is like a shrill chirping sound which they make during the night.
The baby water boatman bugs look like a miniature version of the adult ones. But they don’t have wings. The baby water boatman bugs develop their wings after the final molt.
The adult water boatman bugs have developed wings which make them strong fliers. These wings enable them to fly to your pool.
Why? You’ll find about it in a minute, but for now one important distinction.
Many people confuse water boatman bugs with backswimmers.
Both look pretty similar and backswimmers also belong to the same order of Hemiptera (true bugs). But backswimmers belong to a different family of bugs known as Notonectidae.
There are other significant differences between the two. But the most critical difference is that backswimmers swim upside down and they’re predaceous water beetles.
Backswimmers swim upside down and they’re predaceous water beetles.
It means that backswimmers are hunters and they’ll hunt the water boatman bugs too. On top of that, backswimmers bite humans swimming in the water.
In contrast, water boatman bugs don’t bite. They’re harmless to humans.
So, now that you know about water boatman bugs more than any person who hasn’t read this post, it’s time to find out how they land up in your pool.
Why Water Boatman Bugs Get Inside The Pool?
Water boatman bugs is one of the types of water bugs that can make your pool under certain conditions.
If your pool has the following, then be sure that there can be water boatman bugs in the pool along with many other swimming pool bugs.
Lights Around The Pool Attract Water Boatman Bugs
Lights in and around the pool are necessary. But these lights attract bugs that are drawn to lights.
And light, both artificial and natural light, attract water boatman bugs.
Water boatman bugs will fly to your pool when they’ll spot the light around your pool.
And it’s not just the water boatman bugs, but the pool light will also bugs like gnats, mosquitoes, and flies.
Water boatman bugs have a unique ability to pick up the light reflecting from the water’s surface. That tells them that there’s a water body around which they can fly to make it their new home.
Waste And Algae In The Pool Draws The Water Boatman Bugs
Both pool algae and organic wastes like leaves and tiny twigs of trees in the pool are food for water boatman bugs.
These water bugs will make your swimming pool as their home if your pool dirty and you haven’t maintained it properly.
Keeping the pool uncovered during rains and during the off seasons allows the debris to fall in the pool.
That’s the time when these rotting debris in the pool attract water boatman and many other bugs.
There Are Mosquito Larvae And Other Tiny Bugs In The Pool
Along with algae, mosquito larvae and other tiny pool bugs like pool mites are also a food source for the water boatman bugs, and the worst, back swimmers.
And if there’s a problem with pool’s water circulation and filtration system then pool water tends to get stagnant.
And stagnant water is a prime real estate for many types of water bugs. It’s also a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.
When the mosquito eggs hatch, the larvae from these eggs is the food source for water boatman bugs in the pool.
So, a dirty pool with poor water circulation and lights around the pool attract the water boatman bugs.
Now it’s time to find out, how to get rid of water boatman bugs in the pool.
Get Rid Of Water Boatman Bugs In Pool In 8 Steps
To get rid of water boatman bugs in the pool it’s essential that you should also get rid of their food source which are algae and tiny bugs in pool and their larvae.
If you don’t then the water boatman bugs will be back again.
Here are the things that you’ll need to get rid of water boatman bugs in the pool –
- Pool skimmer net
- Pool cleaner
- Calcium Hypochlorite
- Brush to scrub the pool’s liners and stairs
- Chlorinating sanitizer
- Pool water purifier
- pH test kit
Let’s start with how to get rid of water boatman bugs in the pool in 8 steps.
Scrub The Pool’s Liners, Ladders, And The Edges Of The Pool To Get Rid Of The Algae And Waste
Pour a few drops of chlorine sanitizer on the the liners and ladders of your pool.
Begin with scrubbing the pool’s exterior. The pool’s liners and ladders have thin gaps and crevices which may hold algae spores.
Algae is always present near water bodies. While growing up, they’re microscopic.
So, even before you can see the algae, the algae are present around your pool.
Do not worry about the dirt and bits of algae falling into the pool while scrubbing with the brush. In the following steps you’ll get rid of them too.
To make the scrubbing easy and not tiring, you can use stiff pool brush on a pole.
Skim The Pool To Remove Any Floating Water Boatman Bugs
Take a regular pool skimmer net and skim the pool’s water surface to remove any water boatman bugs.
That’ll not only remove the floating water boatman bugs but also other water bugs on the pool, including the tiny larvae on the pool and the organic debris.
Skim the water’s surface multiple times to till there are no bugs and debris floating on the pool water.
Vacuum Clean The Pools Floors To Remove The Algae
Now it’s time to get rid of all the waste and algae from the pool’s floors and walls that the water boatman bugs are feeding on.
To do that use an automatic pool vacuum cleaner to clean the pool’s floor. After a few rounds of cleaning with an automatic pool cleaner, clean the pool’s floor manually.
It’s essential that you do that manually because the robotic pool cleaner might not reach the corners and edges of the pool.
While manual cleaning you’d notice that the pool water is turning murky, which is natural.
If you notice any algae on the pool’s side walls, then use a the chlorine sanitizer and the brush to clean the pool’s walls.
Shock Chlorinate Your Pool
Shock chlorination of swimming pool is a process of increasing the pH levels or alkalinity levels of the pool water to kill the algae and bugs in the pool.
To do that, pour calcium hypochlorite shock in the pool’s water.
Read the instructions on the label of the calcium hypochlorite shock pack to determine the exact amount you’d need depending on your pool’s water volume.
Pro Tip: Shock your pool after sunset. Direct sunlight destroys the chlorine.
If you do shock chlorination during the day then the chlorine will fail to kill the bugs and the algae in the pool.
Shock chlorination will also kill any larvae, especially mosquito larvae, baby water boatman bugs, and tiny pool bugs like swimming pool mites and ants in the pool.
Use Algaecide In The Pool
Many people use algaecide in the pool before shock chlorination. That’s a wrong approach.
You should use algaecide after shock chlorination because it’s more effective.
After shock chlorination wait till the chlorine levels of your pool return to normal. It’s essential that the water chemistry of your pool is normal for the algaecide to work its magic.
To check if the pH level or the alkalinity levels are normal, use alkalinity test kit to measure it.
When it shows normal, add the algaecide as per the volume of water your swimming pool holds. The instruction label on the algaecide will have that information.
But one important thing to keep in mind. Keep your pool pump running while adding algaecide.
It’ll ensure proper circulation of water and the algaecide will reach the pool filter and will kill any algae present there.
Run The Pool Filter For Eight Hours To Clear The Pool Water
While following all these steps, you’ll notice that the pool water is turning bluish-green.
That’s a great sign. It means that the algae are dead. You’ll also notice dead bus floating on the pool, including the baby and matured water boatman bugs.
But to ensure that everything flushes out, keep the pool filter for eight hours.
Smart homeowners with swimming pools in their yard also use pool water clarifier to speed up the process of cleaning the pool water after shock chlorination and algaecide treatment.
You can do that too.
Test The Water Chemistry Of Your Pool Water, Again
Before you take a dip in your pool, you need to ensure your swimming pool has the right water chemistry or balance pool chemistry.
In other words, if the pH levels or alkalinity levels of the pool water are safe to swim. That depends on PPM which is parts per million denoted in mg/L
To do that, use the pool water test kit. The label of the test kit will have the correct pH or PPM levels for your pool depending on the gallons of water it holds.
Clean The Pool Filter
Finally, clean the pool filter. You don’t want any baby water boatman bugs, or bugs of any sort, dirt, and algae stuck in the pool filter.
Clean the pool filter after shutting it down. Take a cloth a soak it with dilute muriatic acid and scrub the pool filter with the cloth.
But it’ll be best if you change the pool filter and use a fresh and new pool filter to ensure no traces of water boatman bugs, their eggs, babies, and even algae are in the pool filter.
Water boatman bugs are one of the types of swimming pool bugs that make your swimming pool their home if there are conditions that support them.
In this guide you’ve learned what are water boatman bugs and why they land up in your pool.
On top of that, you’ve also learned the hacks on how to get rid of water boatman bugs in the pool and why it’s necessary to clean the entire pool to get rid of them.
Nang Chen is an Entomologist and Arachnologist who is associated with Vienna’s museum of natural history. He’s also a consultant with real estate groups, insecticide conglomerates and law enforcement groups as a forensic entomologist. Nang Chen holds an M.S. from South China University and he’s a regular contributor to our site.