A cockroach standing at the base of a white plate

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The difference between cockroaches and water bugs

There are a lot of insects out there that are confused with some species of cockroach. In order to determine the type of treatment necessary, it is key to identify what type of insect you have in your home or on your property.

One of the insects that is most often confused with the cockroach is the water bug. They do bear a resemblance to one another, but there are key differences. Although water bugs are known for their painful bites, they are not the pest that cockroaches are. 

Sometimes it's best to just call the experts to determine if you have a cockroach infestation or you just have a water bug. Call Ehrlich at 1-800-837-5520 or use our online form to get an appointment scheduled.

Start your cockroach treatment with Ehrlich today.

Cockroach and water bug differences

The main difference between the two insects is their appearance. Though they look similar, there are some distinct differences that will tell you if you are dealing with a water bug or a cockroach.



This is your typical cockroach. Notice the round body shape, wings and brownish color. They are also usually smaller in size than a water bug and their habitat is vastly different.

  • Size - Generally 1-1 1/2" in length.

  • Habitat - Some species can survive in water, but they prefer to be on land.

  • Eating habits - Cockroaches will eat just about anything, including garbage.

  • Temperament - They’re generally shy, running away when lights are turned on or when people approach.

  • Pest determination - Cockroaches are definitely pests! They are vectors of disease and illness and multiply quickly.

Water bugs

Water Bug

Water bugs tend to live in water. They can actually hold their breath for a long time, but do have to resurface. They can bite if they are handled. They rarely enter homes and prefer to eat other insects and creatures in the water rather than scavenge like cockroaches.

  • Size - Generally about 2" in length

  • Habitat - Water bugs prefer to spend their time in the water and can hold their breath for a long time. They also hunt prey in the water.

  • Eating habits - These infamous hunters subdue prey with their proboscis and inject a powerful enzyme that liquefies the prey’s insides for consumption.

  • Temperament - They can bite if they are handled or threatened, but the bite is not dangerous to humans.

  • Pest determination - Water bugs are not considered pests and actually feed on other insects.

Ehrlich Specialists are experts in cockroach identification

If you have any questions about whether or not the insects that you are finding around your home are cockroaches or water bugs, don't hesitate to call the experts at Ehrlich. We can determine very quickly if you have water bugs or a cockroach infestation and then recommend just the right cockroach treatment plan. Our experts know the best methods to get rid of cockroaches.

Just call us at 1-800-837-5520 or visit our online form to schedule an appointment.



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