The name waterbug has several different applications. There are several types of true waterbugs including backswimmers and giant water bugs but cockroaches are also frequently referred to as waterbugs. Because true water bugs are typically found in natural aquatic environments like ponds, streams and rivers it is more likely that you will encounter waterbugs of the cockroach variety in your home. If you do, there are many ways to kill them or deter them from entering your home again.

Aquatic Insects

The Nepomorpha infraorder of insects includes true waterbugs, those which are aquatic insects. Some insects belonging to this group are giant waterbugs, water scorpions, water boatmen, creeping water bugs and backswimmers. To kill and repel truewater bugs, add a few teaspoons of liquid detergent to the water in your pool or pond. This will break the surface tension on which water bugs rely to move and, when they come in contact with the soap, it will also kill them. Keep your pool or pond filter clean and algae-free to prevent waterbugs from finding food sources and from using the filter as a place to lay eggs.

Traps and Baits

Baits and traps are effective in killing existing cockroach waterbugs in your house and keeping infestations from happening in the future. Glue traps are commonly used in homes to catch a handful of stray waterbugs but larger populations may require a bait trap. Bait traps typically involve the use of bait laced with a slow-acting insecticide. When the waterbugs carry the bait back to the colony it will effectively kill large numbers of the insects. Place bait traps on the floor near baseboards in your home, under counters and beneath appliances.

Homemade Waterbug Repellent

Boric acid is a common household product that can be used to kill and repel the cockroach waterbugs. Sprinkle powdered boric acid in indoor areas where waterbugs are likely to be found such as near cracks and crevices and under and around appliances. When the insects come into contact with the boric acid the material will stick to the bug's legs and antennae. When the insect cleans itself, the boric acid will be ingested and it will paralyze the waterbug. Once paralyzed, the waterbugs will die. Boric acid can also be used outdoors to repel true water bugs from entering your pool or pond. Simply sprinkle the acid around the border of the water in a thin layer.

Plants and Herbs

Certain aromatic herbs and plants can be an easy and effective way to repel cockroach waterbugs. Sprinkle some mint or catnip leaves under your counters and appliances to ward off waterbugs or mash garlic and add water to create a spray to coat surfaces near which waterbugs are often found. Bay leaves and cucumber peels can also be sprinkled around your home to repel insects. Keep in mind that, over time, these materials will dry out and lose their efficacy so they should be replaced about once a week.

Keep it Clean

One of the most basic and effective methods of keeping cockroach waterbugs out of your home is to keep it clean. Keep food items in tightly-sealed storage containers and put them away in a cupboard or pantry rather than on the counter. Clean up spills promptly and do not allow garbage and empty cardboard or plastic containers to accumulate in your home.

To prevent true waterbugs from inhabiting water sources such as an outdoor pool or pond, chlorinate the water and keep it free of algae. Treat the water with an algaecide once a month to kill any eggs waterbugs might deposit.