How to Get Rid of Water Beetles: Quick and Effective Solutions for Your Home

Water beetles are common insects found in aquatic environments, and although they play an essential role in maintaining the ecosystem balance, they can sometimes become a nuisance. Dealing with these critters requires understanding their habits and taking appropriate measures to minimize their presence.

One effective method to remove water beetles is by physically eliminating them. For example, you can shake off Japanese beetles into a bucket of soapy water when they are sluggish in the morning. Additionally, using protective barriers like cheesecloth or fine netting can help safeguard high-value plants from infestations.

Another approach for controlling water beetles involves disrupting their life cycle, which includes stages of eggs, larvae, and adults. For instance, limiting access to breeding areas or applying targeted and safe insecticides can help keep their population in check. Keeping water bodies clean and free of debris can also discourage their breeding. Remember always to consider the safety of other aquatic species and the surrounding environment when dealing with water beetles.

Understanding Water Beetles

Identification and Characteristics

Water Beetles come in various types, such as the Crawling Water Beetle and the Water Scavenger Beetle. They can be hefty, with some measuring over 3 inches. Here are some general features:

  • Aquatic insects with streamlined bodies
  • Strong swimmers
  • Equipped with spiracles or air-storage bubbles for respiration

Life Cycle and Habitat

The life cycle of water beetles consists of egg, larva, pupa, and adult stages. Some species spend the winter as pupae, while others emerge as adults. They are found in:

  • Freshwater habitats (ponds, lakes, streams)
  • Shallow edges of water bodies
  • Wetlands and marshes
Water Beetle Type Habitat Example Adult Diet
Crawling Water Beetle Near the water’s edge Algae and small organisms
Water Scavenger Beetles Ponds and wetlands Decaying organic matter

Methods to Get Rid of Water Beetles

Natural Predators and Biological Control

Introducing natural predators can help control water beetles. Examples of natural predators include:

  • Dragonfly nymphs
  • Predaceous diving beetles
  • Birds
  • Tadpoles

Choose predators that coexist well with other organisms in your water ecosystem.

Physical Removal

Water beetles can be handpicked or shaken off from plants and water surfaces. For instance:

  • Use a net to capture and remove them.
  • Collect beetles in a bucket of soapy water to eliminate them.

Physical removal is most effective when combined with other control methods.

Chemical Treatments

Chemical treatments are an option for controlling water beetles. However, use them with caution, as they can also harm non-target organisms. Some chemical treatments include:

  • Insecticides specifically designed for aquatic pests
  • Granular formulations that target larvae

Consult a professional before using chemical treatments to ensure proper application and safety.

Preventive Measures

Maintaining Water Quality

Keeping water clean is vital for preventing water beetles. Regularly monitor and maintain your water sources, such as pools and ponds.

  • Test pH levels
  • Remove debris
  • Maintain proper filtration

Reducing Food Sources

Water beetles feed on organic matter, so reducing their food sources can help deter them.

  • Clean up fallen leaves and plants
  • Skim for floating debris
  • Eliminate algae and other organisms

Adding Protective Barriers

Installing barriers around water sources can help keep water beetles at bay.

  • Use fine mesh nets
  • Install floating covers
  • Add natural repellents, e.g., plants or fish that deter beetles

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Water Scavenger Beetle

 

Subject:  biting swimmer in pool
Geographic location of the bug:  Queen Creek, AZ
Date: 06/08/2019
Time: 04:38 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We have found this type of bug in our Arizona pool (more than once). It swims very fast, it is not a water boatman, the legs are different and all go the same direction. Also it swims belly down. It has 6 legs, 2 small antennae, and it appears to use a bubble on its underside to help it go up to the surface and down again. It also bites (or stings), and if a person is in the pool nearby, it will make a beeline for them. Very aggressive for a little creature. (the 3rd photo is not 2 bugs, but a reflection on the side of the glass it was in).
Nobody seems to be able to identify it. Thank you in advance for your help!
How you want your letter signed:  Zonie Girl

Water Scavenger Beetle

Dear Zonie Girl,
Thank you for pointing out and for having documentary images showing the position of the legs while swimming.  The is a Beetle, and based on information on BugGuide, including “Aquatic forms may superficially resemble Dysticidae but can be easily distinguished by antennae. Many have keeled sterna. The adults come up for air head first, and move hind legs alternately (Dysticidae come up for air tail first and move hind legs together, like oars)”, we conclude this is a Water Scavenger Beetle in the family Hydrophilidae.  Though the bite might be an annoyance, we do not believe it poses any threat to humans.

Water Scavenger Beetle

Thank you for the quick response! I looked these up online, and yes, that is exactly what this bug is.

Water Scavenger Beetle

Letter 2 – Water Scavenger Beetles from the UK

 

Subject: Small beetle needs identifying
Location: Midlands, UK
March 13, 2014 5:24 am
Hi,
I founf several of these small beetles in a wheat field in the UK. They have light bodies, ridged/bumpy elytra and a dark head. I can’t seem to identify it though. Do you know what species it is?
Signature: H Watkins

Unknown Beetles
Possibly Water Scavenger Beetles

Dear H Watkins,
We don’t recognize your beetles, which means we must research.  Preparing questions and images for posting takes time, and our time this morning is running short, so we are posting your images and we hope to attempt an identification as well this morning, but we may not be able to provide you with a response immediately.

Unknown Beetles
Unknown Beetles

Eric Eaton provides a very interesting identification:  Water Scavenger Beetles
Daniel:
Two of us are thinking the beetles might be water scavenger beetles (family Hydrophilidae).  Not all of them are strictly aquatic as adults, and as Doug Yanega said:  Haven’t they had a lot of rain in the UK this year?  So, if the wheat fields were flooded, or even just “soggy,” it is a fair bet to say that is what the beetles are.
Eric

Another Update from Eric Eaton:  March 17, 2014
Ok, got a more specific reply from Michael Geiser:  “Yup, I would suspect Helophorus nubilus, a species with costate elytra, well-known from wheat fields in England (even reported as a “pest species”). But I’ll wait for Robert’s reply, as he’s the expert…”
So, yes, a water scavenger beetle!
Eric

Another Update from Eric Eaton:  March 22, 2014
Daniel:
Please meet Clive Turner, a coleopterist interested in the beetles, which turn out to be a different species (not Helophorus nubilus, but a different one).  I will let Clive fill you in…..
He is interested in obtaining the specimens if the person who wrote to WTB still has them.  Thanks!
Sincerely,
Eric

 

Letter 3 – Water Scavenger Beetle

 

Subject:  Beetle
Geographic location of the bug:  Kentucky
Date: 03/28/2020
Time: 11:39 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this never seen one before. 11:35pm march
How you want your letter signed:  Ellis

Water Scavenger Beetle

Dear Ellis,
We believe your aquatic beetle is a Water Scavenger Beetle in the family Hydrophilidae which is well represented on BugGuide.  Many aquatic insects, including Water Scavengers, are able to fly from pond to pond and some species may be attracted to lights.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

1 thought on “How to Get Rid of Water Beetles: Quick and Effective Solutions for Your Home”

  1. My family has owned this house for 77 years. This is the first time I’ve ever seen water scavenger beetles in the kitchen or in the house.
    They are almost an inch long. How do I eliminate them?

    Reply

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