Difference Between a Waterbug and a Cockroach

image of a cockroach

What Is a Waterbug?

Although many people refer to various cockroach species as waterbugs, the true water bug is an aquatic insect classified under the order Hemiptera. Water boatmen and water scorpions are true bugs that live in water. Their legs are used as paddles to move through water. Members of the Gerridae family, such as water striders, pond skaters and water spiders, are also water bugs. However, instead of using their legs as paddles, they make use of surface tension to stay afloat.

Oriental Cockroach vs. Waterbug

One common example of an insect that is referred to as a waterbug is actually the oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis). Contrary to its name, the oriental cockroach is native to Africa. Oriental cockroaches (water bugs) are shiny and black or dark brown in color. Nymphs of the species are smaller. Adult males are smaller than females. Oriental cockroaches do not have full-sized wings, and they are unable to fly.

Attracted to Warm, Damp Places

In warm weather, oriental cockroaches can be found outside in trash cans and sewers. In colder seasons, they migrate inside seeking warmth. They are most commonly located in basements and other damp areas at or below ground level. Oriental cockroaches have seasonal development cycles, with adults emerging in warm seasons.

Male Adult Oriental Cockroach

Water is a Necessity

Like most other cockroaches, the oriental cockroach can eat many foods it happens upon. It is especially fond of starchy foods and decaying plant and animal matter. Given enough water, oriental cockroaches can survive up to one month without food. However, they cannot survive more than two weeks without water.

Diseases & Problems

Cockroaches are adaptable insects. Although they gather in warm, moist areas, they are not aquatic like true waterbugs. Cockroaches are scavengers who consume any organic food source available to them. These insects normally are nocturnal and hide in crevices during the day. Cockroaches are capable of spreading human disease and triggering allergies and asthma. Oriental cockroaches can spread contaminants which can cause diarrhea and food poisoning. They are attracted to food sources indoors and require a science-based solution tailored to each home to best control them. In order to get rid of a cockroach infestation, contact your local pest control professional.