The Giant Insects That Maine Residents Often Mistake For Flying Cockroaches

Cockroach infestations within homes and buildings are certainly not rare in the state of Maine, as three common species, the American cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach and the German cockroach, can be found indoors in all regions of the state. The German cockroach is the most common roach pest that infests homes in the Maine, and the adults are easily recognizable for the two black stripes that run lengthwise across their light brown shell. In addition to this prominent feature, adults possess one set of fully grown wings, but luckily, this species rarely takes flight. However, it is not uncommon for residents of Maine to find large-sized airborne insects flying toward the outside lights on their home. Although these insects resemble large cockroaches, they are most likely giant water bugs.

The term “water bug” is commonly used to refer to cockroaches and several other insects of a similar appearance. But the common nickname is most appropriately used to refer to an aquatic insect species known as Lethocerus americanus. There exists much misinformation concerning the giant water bug on the internet where many websites inaccurately claim that these insects invade and nest within the walls of houses in large numbers. In reality, the giant water bug is not considered a significant insect pest to homes, as these insects require an aquatic environment in order to survive, just as their nickname suggests. But during this species’ mating season, large groups of water bugs take flight to new water sources. These water sources include ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, creeks, puddles and even chlorinated pools.

Unsurprisingly, these seasonal mating flights bring giant water bugs into urban and suburban areas where they are frequently found in parking lots, residential lawns and the front and back porches of homes. Unfortunately, water bugs are attracted to artificial lights, which can make these insects an occasional nuisance for residents. It should also be noted that water bugs can inflict extremely painful bites, so they should never be handled, and it would be wise to avoid their swarms. Water bugs are hard to miss when they establish a presence on a property, as the L. americanus species grows to be at least 2 inches in length, making them one of the largest insect species in North America.

Do you believe that you have encountered a water bug, or several, within a residential area in the past?