Water bug vs cockroach infographic in Albuquerque NM - Pest Defense Solutions

If you’ve ever heard someone refer to a cockroach as a water bug, you may be wondering what the difference between these insects is. Although many people refer to Oriental cockroaches as “water bugs”, the truth is that cockroaches and water bugs are different insects entirely. To better understand what type of pest you may be dealing with in your Albuquerque NM home, it’s important to learn how to differentiate between a cockroach and a water bug.

The cockroach exterminators at Pest Defense Solutions are here to break down what to look for when it comes to roaches and the unique water bugs that look like them!

Is a Water Bug and a Cockroach the Same Thing?

Although the water bug can look like a big roach, it is not a part of the cockroach family. Water bugs live within the insect order Hemiptera, and are primarily aquatic insects that live only in bodies of water. When handled, water bugs can bite in defense (and are often called “toe biters”). These insects rarely enter homes and are not known to scavenge like roaches, making them a nonexistent pest problem for homeowners.

The one cockroach that is commonly referred to as a water bug is the Oriental cockroach. Oriental roaches look different from your typical American or German cockroach with their black, shiny bodies. Because they frequent pipes, sewers, and plumbing fixtures, they are commonly mistaken for water bugs.

Water Bugs vs Cockroaches — How They Differ

Water bug identification in Albuquerque NM - Pest Defense Solutions

Water Bugs

  1. Just as their name suggests, water bugs live in the water the majority of the time. They’re often found in ponds and lakes.
  2. Water bugs will hunt and kill other insects and small fish. They can also administer a painful bite to humans.
  3. Water bugs are large, with some species reaching 4″. Their body shape is flat, oval, and tan or brown in color. Unlike roaches, water bugs have clawed front feet, a piercing mouth, and short antennae.

Roach vs water bug in Albuquerque NM - Pest Defense Solutions


  1. When roaches get inside, they tend to hide in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, laundry rooms, and other damp areas in the home. They also prefer the dark.
  2. Cockroaches aren’t known to bite. However, they spread germs and bacteria. They can also trigger allergies in individuals.
  3. Most species grow to be only 1–3 inches in length. Roaches have longer antennae than water bugs and hairy legs.
  4. Some species of cockroaches have fully developed wings, but they are unlikely to fly. 

Water Bugs vs Roaches in New Mexico

Albuquerque is home to several roach species that can easily be misidentified as a water bug. If you are noticing similar-looking pests in or near your home, it’s time to reach out to your local cockroach exterminators at Pest Defense Solutions. Our experts know how to tell the differences between cockroaches and water bugs, and can administer the best treatment to get rid of them. Contact us today!

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Cockroach vs Water Bug in Albuquerque NM

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