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

water bug vs cockroach

I spotted a large flat bug crawling under the kitchen sink and after I said, “There goes a cockroach,” my grandmother said, “Oh, that’s just a water bug.” Water bug vs. cockroach – there doesn’t seem to be a difference, so I investigated and found out there’s quite a contrast.

Have you noticed other people calling a cockroach a water bug? Is it possible to have water bugs inside of your home? Since a cockroach is just an insect, why should you even be concerned if you spot a cockroach within your house? or  do roaches really bite you when you come in contact?

Giant water bug

Water Bugs and Cockroaches are Completely Different Insects

Water bugs are aquatic insects in the Nepomorpha and Gerromorpha suborders of the Hemiptera order. These bugs live in non-polar regions, usually on freshwater ponds, and feed on invertebrates, fish, and amphibians. Water bugs are described in this YouTube video:

Cockroaches belong to the insect order called Blattodea. They are not a true bug, because according to the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, they don’t have mouth parts used to suck plant juices, which is a prerequisite of a true bug. Cockroaches are insects, however.

The most plentiful household pest, cockroaches have modified little since their emergence on Earth 400 million years ago, so says the Entomology Department at the University of California, Riverside. These insects went worldwide in infested ships prior to the days of insecticides.

Oriental Cockroaches are Sometimes Called Water Bugs

According to the Santa Barbara County of California Public Health Department, there are over 4,000 types of cockroaches worldwide. In the United States (U.S.), the four main cockroach pests are the German, the American, the brown banded, and the oriental cockroach.

The most abundant is the German cockroach, and according to the University of Kentucky, a single female produces 30,000 babies in one year. The oriental cockroach, which prefers dark and damp places, is identified by some people as a water beetle, or a water bug.

As the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department points out, a possible reason for calling a cockroach a water bug is to make us feel better, implying that you aren’t looking at or dealing with a nasty cockroach, but just with a bug that usually lives on top of the water.

The problem with that philosophy is that unless you have continuously standing water within your house, complete with mud under the water and filled with aquatic plants, frogs, and other invertebrates, you don’t house the environment suitable for a true water bug.

Cockroaches are the Carriers of Disease

So, you see a cockroach and you think, “That’s no big deal—a cockroach is nothing more than an insect.” You’re correct in the last part of your thinking, but wrong in the assessment that a cockroach is no big deal. The sight of a cockroach can lead to several human health issues.

Cockroaches carry human pathogens, such as E. coli and Salmonella, which when spread by these insects can promote human diseases and result in diarrhea and food poisoning, according to the University of Minnesota Extension Service. Cockroaches spread other serious diseases.

The University of California, Davis, Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), says that when the American cockroach comes in contact with human sewage and pet droppings, it can spread deadly diseases, such as dysentery and typhoid fever. It can also spread the hepatitis virus.

Cast-off skin, feces, and saliva from cockroaches contribute to allergens in the air, which is a leading cause for allergies flaring up with children, or people susceptible to allergic reactions, who are living in a cockroach-infested environment.

Insecticides are Available to Eliminate Cockroaches

Fortunately, you can buy insecticides specially made to kill cockroaches. Good examples include Maxforce® FC Magnum Roach Bait, made by Beyer; Combat® Source Kill Max™ R2 Roach Bait, created by Henkel; and Advion® Syngenta Cockroach Gel Bait, produced by DuPont.

If these products aren't satisfactory for you, then head over to this page : ​


When you consider water bugs vs. cockroach insects, there is a big difference. True water bugs live on fresh water ponds and lakes. Cockroaches live almost everywhere and are good at infiltrating warm, moist places in your home.

But if you are looking to know how to get rid of waterbugs then head on over to this page to learn how you can get rid of them easily and safely. ​There are many ways to do it and you can learn it at The Attic Pest Authority. 

If you find a cockroach, kill it, look for more, and if you find more, do the following:

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