How to tell the Difference Between Water Bugs and Roaches?

Roach removal

Of all the critters that can invade your home, the insect known as the cockroach or roach is the one that fills homeowners with equal amounts of revulsion and fear. Roaches can infiltrate your home and eat your foodstuffs, leaving droppings and possibly dangerous pathogens behind. If you’ve seen one roach, you’ve seen them all, right? You know what they look like – they’re small, brown, disgusting, and they scatter when you turn on the lights.

Hang on, however. Too many homeowners make the mistake of identifying a roach when they’re really looking at a water bug.

While the two can look similar, water bugs and roaches are two entirely different insects. This is particularly true when it comes to home extermination. Specific treatments are used for roach control, which makes proper identification critical.

Here is how to tell a roach apart from a water bug so that you can tell your exterminator what type of treatment you require for total pest control.

Roach vs. Water Bug – What’s the Difference?


Is it a roach or water bug? When you see one of these insects, look at the body size first. Roaches have a round body shape, wings, and tend to be a brownish color. Water bugs are flat and oval shaped and typically tan or brown.
A water bug tends to run bigger than most cockroaches. A cockroach only measures about an inch to an inch and a half in length. Water bugs, on the other hand, can be two inches long.

A common example of an insect that is sometimes referred to as a water bug is the oriental cockroach. This roach is actually native to Africa and has a black or dark brown appearance. These types of roaches do not have wings and are unable to fly.

Oriental roaches can be found outside in trash cans, sewers, and other stinky and damp places. These insects will only come into your home, in most cases, when it turns cold outside. It is during the winter months where you can sometimes find them in your basements and crawl spaces.

Here is one distinguishing feature that can determine roach from water bug. Roaches have long antennae that are about the same size as their bodies. They also have six legs that are covered in spines that make them appear almost hairy. Roach heads also face downward.

These characteristics are very different from that of a water bug, which has short antennae located under the eyes, clawed front feet, a short-pointed beak, and wings that form an X-like pattern.

Roach & Water Bug Habitats

Water bugs have an appropriate name, as the insects love to spend time near water. The water bugs we are referring to are known as the Giant Water Bug species, which are the ones most often confused with cockroaches. Water bugs can hold their breath for extremely long periods of time, but they do have to eventually resurface. They also hunt their prey in the water.

While some roaches can survive in water, the rust-colored insects prefer to spend time on land. If you don’t see them in your trash, you might see them on your countertops, near your sinks, and underneath appliances.

What Do Roaches and Water Bugs Eat? 

A cockroach will eat whatever you have inside your home. These scavengers will go after your fruit on the counter just as quickly as the refuse inside the trash can.

Water bugs, on the other hand, hunt for their food. They subdue their prey with a proboscis that injects an enzyme that liquifies their prey from the inside, whereby water bugs suck out the liquid.

The Roach vs. Water Bug Temperament 

Cockroaches tend to be shy insects that will scurry the moment the lights come on. You are unlikely to be bitten by a cockroach. Water bugs, on the other hand, will bite with their proboscis if they are handled. The bite can be painful but isn’t dangerous to humans.

Chances of Home Invasion by Roaches and Water Bugs 

The primary difference between roaches and water bugs is that the latter will rarely invade your home. Water bugs like to live where it’s wet and prefer to eat other insects and creatures in the water rather than scavenge around your home.

Roaches, on the other hand, love the shelter your home provides. They are nocturnal insects who will hide in crevices during the day only to come out at night. If you see one roach in your home, there are likely more, as they don’t tend to travel too far beyond their nests.

While water bugs love water, roaches need moisture and won’t survive long without something to drink. If you are providing your roach invaders with a food and water source, you may sustain entire families of the insects for generations to come. Not the house guests you had in mind, are they?

Roaches Can Spread Disease 

The conclusion is that if you think you see a roach or a water bug, it’s likely a roach, which means you’ll need fast extermination. Roaches can make people sick and trigger allergies and asthma. At Exile Pest Control Services, we are experts in cockroach identification.

We can determine the type and volume of infestation you have and will arrive with the proper treatments you need for total roach destruction.

Contact us today to receive a customized quote for complete roach control in San Bernardino, California, and beyond!

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