What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Backswimmer
Hello Bugman–
I found this bug in our pool, and after it freaked out the kids and I fished it out, I looked on your site. Sure enough, you had one picture of it, under True Aquatic Bugs. I thought perhaps maybe a few other pictures of a Backswimmer might be of use to you. Thanks for helping me identify it. Also, can’t the Chlorine, or other chemicals in the pool water, kill the bug? Thanks again,
Wendy Richardson

Hi Wendy,
Thanks for sending us another photo of a Backswimmer. One nagging reader, a Truly Candid Girl, might be annoyed, but we haven’t posted a new photo of a Backswimmer in quite some time. Backswimmers are in the Family Notonectidae, and more information can be found on BugGuide where we just noticed the common names Water Bee or Water Wasp, undoubtedly a reference to the bite. The chlorine would probably need to be at a very high concentration to harm the Backswimmer, though the lack of prey like small aquatic insects and other invertebrates will ensure that Backswimmers will not permanently inhabit your pool. Since they fly, they can come and go at will.

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What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
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9 Responses to Backswimmer AKA Water Wasp

  1. I’m so glad you mentioned the fact that the backswimmers can fly. I found 2 in my horse’s water trough..which I empty and throughly clean weekly. Couldn’t figure out how they got in there. I was also concerned that I couldn’t find one when I dumped and cleaned the other day…evidently it already left. I was afraid that they required water to survive and that I’d somehow missed it when I returned the other one to the trough. I was hoping it would stay and keep out any mosquitos that made their way into the water between cleanings….evidently the water is too clean to make it happy now and it was gone today. I love this site!

  2. Will says:

    I found one in my pool and when I picked it up it stung me.what do I do?

    • bugman says:

      The bite is not considered to be dangerous, but we will not rule out allergic reactions in sensitive people. If your symptoms persist or worsen, we would urge you to seek professional attention.

  3. Matt Tester says:

    I have heard first hand of a recent anaphylactic reaction to a bite from what was most likely a backswimmer as it occurred in the swimming pool. The young teenager experienced a painful bite on her shoulder at which she quickly swatted away the small insect she saw in that spot confirming it wasn’t a wasp or bee. Very shortly afterwards she had acute swelling of the lips, nose and fingers and red flushing all over. She was taken to hospital and treated only with antihistamines. She is a very lucky girl that this wasn’t life threatening on this occasion however a consult with a allergy specialist would be recommended. One wouldn’t want to risk another such exposure.

    • bugman says:

      Because we are all individuals, reactions to toxins affect everyone differently. What would be a painful bite with a local reaction in most people obviously had a very different reaction in the allergic individual you mentioned. Thanks so much for providing this information.

  4. Barbara says:

    If I empty my pool will back swimmers leave? Can they survive in my yard? I am concerned about my dogs if I empty my pool in backyard. I’ve had a hard time with the pool this summer and therefore I’ve seen several back swimmers in the pool and am ready to empty it!!!!

    • bugman says:

      Backswimmers can fly between bodies of water. The Backswimmers will likely survive if you empty the pool and they will fly elsewhere is there is no appropriate habitat in your yard, and they may return when you refill the pool.

    • bugman says:

      Backswimmers are capable of flight, and they can fly between bodies of water, which is very helpful in the event a pond dries out. If you empty your pool, the Backswimmers will likely survive, and if there is no appropriate aquatic habitat in your yard, they will fly to find water. If you refill the pool, they may return.

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