Do Water Bugs Bite? The Findings Will Shock You

Water bugs are primarily found on water, but they can also walk on land. They are often mistaken for a cockroach due to their appearances, but the two species are slightly different. Water bugs are also referred to as water roaches, toe-bitters or electric-light bugs. They are common in places like South America, North Australia and East Asia. They are encountered in ponds and freshwater streams. This article would like to answer the different questions about water bugs.

A Water Bug’s Bite

Like all animals and other insects, water bugs have their own way of defending themselves. If they feel threatened or accidently you startle them, they will likely to bite you. A water bugs bite has a paralyzing fluid which allows their prey to be stunned or paralyzed when injected. They are also referred to as “toe-bitters” because the instant you hit your toes on a stagnant puddle or pond, it will immediately bite your toes.

If bitten, the bite can be very painful and could last for up to 5 minutes or an hour. It is not lethal to human beings and they are considered harmless, but if you have an allergic reaction to the bite, medical attention should be seek immediately. It is not recommended to pick up creeping water bugs with bare hands, using forceps is recommended.

Have you ever mistaken a water bug with a cockroach? Click Water Bug Vs. Cockroach it'll help you distinguish them.

Types Of Water Bugs

1. The Naucoridae

Water bug bite naucoridae

The Naucoridae or commonly known as creeping water bugs can be found on stagnant water or sluggish backwater. They feed on mollusc and small crustaceans including insects and mosquito larva. Creeping water bug waits for their prey and holds them using its raptorial legs.


Common name

Creeping water bugs or Saucer bugs



Can Be Found In

Stagnant water among vegetation and debris


Blackish brown to yellowish brown

Rostrum short and stout


0.5 cm to 2.0 cm


Flies, insects and snails

Method Of Catching Prey

Raptorial forelegs

2. The Belostomatidae


The Belostomatidae or commonly known as Giant water bugs or toe bitters. They have the largest body size in the heteropteran family. They are also called “electric light bugs” due to the fact that they fly to light in large numbers. Giant water bugs feed on insects and small organism they are able to capture including small birds. Strong beaks and front legs help them catch their prey. They have powerful enzymes that can be injected into their prey to make it die. They are considered a delicacy in some parts of Asia, and the insect is eaten fresh or cooked.


Common name

Giant water bugs or toe-bitters



Can Be Found In

Slow moving streams and rivers

Also found in stagnant ponds


Tan to brown in colour

Oval shape to their body


2 cm to 12 cm


Insects, small fishes, frogs, tadpoles and small birds

Method Of Catching Prey

Strong beak and front legs

Water bugs are attracted to light especially when it is dark. If you try to put a light near the river or lake it will find its way there. A light source at night is like a magnet for water bugs and other insects.

How Do You Get Rid Of Water Bugs?

water bug

Due to its painful bite, water bugs should not be allowed near your home both inside and outside. They are not dangerous to humans but it is better to prevent the biting from happening rather than avoiding it. Here are some steps on how you can get rid of water bugs.

  • Removal is the easiest way to do if you find water bugs. They are found on water containers, usually on stagnant ones. You will need to use gardening gloves to prevent them from giving you a painful bite.
  • Call the exterminator, reaching out for professional help is your best bet in solving your water bug problems. The exterminator knows all the methods of eliminating and preventing water bugs from invading your home.
  • Use insecticide to repel off or kill water bugs. Spray it on windows and foundations of the house. Be cautious about using insecticide, especially with children and pets around.

Water bugs propose a little threat to the environment and can be beneficial to keep mosquito larva, snails and other insects to become invasive. Generally, if they come inside your home, they cannot survive because of the conditions inside are not the same as outside. These creatures like to hide in debris and brushes in the pond.

Water Bug Bite - Conclusion

The water bug bite is harmless to humans unless it gives an allergic reaction to it, then medical attention is needed. A water bug can be 0.5cm to 12cm long and are similarly identical with a cockroach, but the main difference is that water bugs live mostly on the water. Water bugs are generally clean compared to roaches and often used as a delicacy in some parts of Asia.

By Emily Taylor

My name is Emily Taylor, gardening is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I know that there are millions of people out there want their backyard and garden be attractive just like their front yard, so I am here to help you create your own backyard paradise.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *