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How to keep water bugs and insects out of your pool: Swimming pool bug prevention tips

No matter how glamorous a pool or luxurious a patio is, there will always be a little housekeeping necessary to ensure your pool is functional and safe to use without any health or hygiene risks. This means keeping pipes, filters and jets clear, ensuring your water has the right chemical balance, and of course, clearing out debris from the pool. But what happens when the debris is less-so debris and more-so…actual living creatures? Water bugs are going to pop up now and again even in the cleanest of pools, because let’s face it – the wet environment of a swimming pool attracts insects, thanks to the host of algae and microorganisms that swimming pool bugs like to feed on. Algae is also where they go to lay their eggs, which is not what you want! The good news is these bugs are

  • Easy to get rid of and
  • Generally not dangerous to have around,

so even if you spot a critter or two you won’t need to panic. In this article, we’re going to break down everything you need to know, from swimming pool bug types, to how to get rid of swimming bugs, and how to stop them from coming back. We’ve split them up into three easy to navigate sections – IDENTIFY, REMOVE and PREVENT – so you can easily find the info you’re looking for.


While you might be tempted to just group them all together at first glance, there are a number of different swimming pool bug types and depending on which ones you have, you may need to address something in particular about your pool maintenance and cleaning. Swimming pool bugs in Australia generally fall into one of two categories; Water Boatmen & Backswimmer Bugs. While you can find these pool swimming bugs all across Australia, there’s a higher concentration of them in Queensland and during the summer months. Both bugs share a lot of similarities, such as the fact that they appear the same, both fly, and both lay their eggs in algae, but there is one major difference – one of them bites!


Water boatmen are the less serious (and less nippy) of the two to find in your pool. They will first be attracted to your pool if they detect something to feed on, such as plant matter, mosquito larvae, other water organisms or even just algae to lay their eggs in, thus causing an infestation. You can identify them by their oval-shaped bodies, usually brown or greenish-brown and a maximum size of about 3 cm. They have two larger back legs as well as wings, so you may see them in flight around your pool area if not in the water itself. While they sound relatively harmless, their presence beckons the arrival of Backswimmer Bugs, which are a bit more troublesome.


Backswimmer Bugs feed on Water Boatmen, so if you see Water Boatmen, assume the Backswimmers aren’t far behind. They’re often mistaken for Water Boatmen as they’re a similar brownish colour and also have two large back legs, however you can differentiate them by their often lighter colour and the fact that they swim on their backs (hence their name). The biggest problem Backswimmer Bugs present is that they are bugs that bite. Yep, you could be going for a leisurely dip and get bitten by one of these insects pretty hard – they’re not poisonous, but you will certainly feel it. They are said to be about as painful as a bee sting when the bug is on the larger side is certainly annoying and something you’d want to avoid.


The presence of bugs in the swimming pool is usually a sign that your pool water chemistry isn’t balanced, but before we get to water chemistry, we need to remove the bugs that are already there. The simplest way to do this is to simply manually remove them with a skimmer or even a leaf rake. Remember, water bugs can fly, so be prepared for them to fly up as you do this. Another (possibly less chaotic) way to remove the bugs is by adding a solution to the pool water to kill them. Adding baby oil or vegetable oil is a popular method, as it will disrupt the bugs’ survival mechanisms and result in them drowning, and dish soap is another method to this. However, it also means you have to deal with cleaning the contaminated pool water afterwards, totally unbalanced water chemistry, and the possible obstruction to your pool filter components from the foreign substances. An easier method might be to look at getting a chemical product specifically for killing bugs, sending them to the pool floor for easy removal.  

Once you have effectively removed the bugs in the swimming pool, it’s time to cut off their food supply by scrubbing your pool clean of any algae. Using a brush, scrub down all of the pool’s surfaces to dislodge as much organic debris as possible. Use a vacuum as well to clean up any sediment in your pool. This will prepare your pool for a shock, to effectively remove any last traces of algae.  

When it comes to shocking your pool, always remember to follow the instructions on your particular product and follow recommended methods and amounts for your pool type and size. You should do a pool shock on a scheduled basis regardless to ensure your pool water is clean and hygienic enough to swim in, but it will also be super effective in removing any last bugs you may have missed in following the previous steps. We recommend doing your pool shock in the evening, that way the chlorine will remain effective for longer (sunshine will diminish its effectiveness). Remember that this will put your pool out of action for a few days, so don’t plan to use your pool straight away. You will also need to run the pump for at least an 8 hour cycle to ensure the shock has been evenly distributed throughout your pool system. Follow up by testing your pH, alkalinity, and chlorine levels and make necessary adjustments. 


So, how do we stop this infestation of bugs in the swimming pool from returning? The most straightforward answer is also the most efficient one, and that’s to simply keep your pool cleaned and maintained on a reasonably regular basis. This includes cleaning and skimming your pool frequently, effectively preventing algae spores from blooming before they have a chance to settle in. Ensure you’re testing your chlorine and pH levels every couple of days and especially after a period of heavy usage or hot weather. Don’t forget to clean your filters and pumps as well to ensure that no build-up occurs!  

The next step from here would be algaecide. Returning again to the theme of cutting off bugs’ food supply, a good algaecide will prevent their food source from growing in your pool in the first place. You can use a preventative algaecide on a consistent basis to keep your pool protected. Other methods you can try include bug zappers and bug traps in the pool area, using a pool cover when your pool is not in use, and using yellow or warm-toned lights which are known to repel bugs.

Now that you’re armed with all the info on how to protect your future pool from swimming pool bugs, it’s time to browse our range and find your next dream pool. Check out the full collection on offer here!