Boatmen and/or backswimmers

LoneWolfArcher

Well-known member
May 29, 2019
258
Michigan
Hey guys. Let me qualify this by saying I live in a rural area. I have a small, slow river meandering through my property. My neighbor has a large pond which is ~500 feet away from my pool. The area around our house is pretty tree free, with a couple of wild areas within 100ft of the pool.

I had a lot of problems last year with boatmen and back swimmers. As my CYA got sky high, and the chlorine's effectiveness dropped, I fought black algae, and I think that attracted boatmen, which in turn attracted backswimmers.

This year, findingTFP, learning, and keeping my chlorine in the target range, I've had no issues with algae. And until a week ago had no boatman or backswimmers. However, my pool is a magnet for bugs. I routinely hand skim a lot of them. So I think this has attracted backswimmers. I can't tell difference very well between boatmen or backswimmers. But I assume they are backswimmers because my CC has remained at .5 or zero.My water is crystal clear. I've kept my FC no less than 10ppm (I am still lowering my CYA, currently ~120, over time due to water issues and not being able to drain and fill).

The only thing I can think of is that the other bugs attract the backswimmers. I had been skimming out 2-3 backswimmers each evening for about the last week, and squishing them. On Tuesday, I pulled about 6 out, and killed them. Last evening there were none. I know the pool attracts other bug eaters (spiders, toads and frogs), so I think that is what I am dealing with.

I know I've read a lot of threads, and other than skimming and squashing there isn't a whole lot you can do. I guess some algeacides will kill them (the kind that leave a film on top of the water, but I am leery of that approach since I do not want copper in my water. Other than building a building over my pool, any other thoughts?
 

mguzzy

Well-known member
Jul 8, 2015
482
OV, CA
With a river and a pond in the near vicinity and a rural setting, I'm betting your pool is just another body of water in the local aquatic biome. Critters will migrate where they can. I don't think there will be a way to keep the bugs out of your pool short of building a screen around the whole thing.
 
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DorsalSpine

Silver Supporter
Jul 8, 2013
458
Columbus, Ohio
I have a lot of landscaping and then farm fields around the house. Bugs are bugs. You can't do much. It is cool to turn on the pool light at night and watch the bats dive bomb the surface of the water for the bugs.
 

norcalpool1

Silver Supporter
Sep 16, 2017
63
Silicon Valley,CA
Backswimmers stay on the water surface and swim from place to place, but I have almost never seen it clinging to the wall or the floor. Water boatman bugs tend to stay on the walls or the floor.
My pool is near a marsh. I see one or two bugs (water boatman, backswimmer and scavenger beetle) a month, and I skim those out. I do see quite a few benign bugs (and a lot of spiders) on the pool all the time, but there are some flycatchers nearby and they seem to like hanging around the pool for these bugs. If I saw as many backswimmers as you see, I would definitely try surface skimmers that would remove debris and bugs from the surface (the solar surface skimmer seems expensive though).
 

CarolineM

Silver Supporter
Jun 20, 2018
219
Annapolis, MD
I get millipedes (first time this year) spiders and copper colored beetles in my pool. The beetles end up in my skimmer sock, spiders can swim and the millipedes drown and sink to the bottom.

I have a forest on one side of my pool about 25 ft away and we are water front on the Chesapeake Bay. I figure these things just come with the territory.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
2,920
Pacific NW
I'm near a marsh and get the boatman, usually one or two, but only if the pool cover is removed in the morning.

If it stays on all day and I take the cover off near the evening, I never see them.

Nothing to do with black algae or pool chemical levels.
My pool is always balanced. It's being near their native environment.
 

LoneWolfArcher

Well-known member
May 29, 2019
258
Michigan
Backswimmers stay on the water surface and swim from place to place, but I have almost never seen it clinging to the wall or the floor. Water boatman bugs tend to stay on the walls or the floor.
My pool is near a marsh. I see one or two bugs (water boatman, backswimmer and scavenger beetle) a month, and I skim those out. I do see quite a few benign bugs (and a lot of spiders) on the pool all the time, but there are some flycatchers nearby and they seem to like hanging around the pool for these bugs. If I saw as many backswimmers as you see, I would definitely try surface skimmers that would remove debris and bugs from the surface (the solar surface skimmer seems expensive though).
Backswimmers do not stay on the surface. Those are water skimmers. Backswimmers and boatmen swim way to well to get sucked into a skimmer. Further, water skimmers, and I have those occasionally too, are even more adept at avoiding skimmers. Hand skimming is your only bet. And both boatman and backswimmers dive deep so you better have a pole long enought to chase them in the deep end! It is quite satisfying stomping on them once I skim them out.
 

LoneWolfArcher

Well-known member
May 29, 2019
258
Michigan
I'm near a marsh and get the boatman, usually one or two, but only if the pool cover is removed in the morning.

If it stays on all day and I take the cover off near the evening, I never see them.

Nothing to do with black algae or pool chemical levels.
My pool is always balanced. It's being near their native environment.
My understanding is boatmen will only be attracted to algae. They lay their eggs in it and eat it. You probably have backswimmers. The big difference between the two is that boatmen are harmless, just annoying. Backswimmers bite! And it hurts like a bee sting except it doesn't last more than a second.
 
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borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
2,920
Pacific NW
Whatever species dives down and has that bubble of air...that's the one I get.

Funny you mention the skimmer they can avoid. I saw one when I was under with the mask on
and it definitely was able to swim away from the draw of the skimmer.

Another time just a few weeks ago same thing, except I cupped my hands and waved hard
under the water, in it's direction and the skimmer got him that time. lol
 

S-Merry

Bronze Supporter
Jul 11, 2017
47
Minneapolis
Hand skimming is your only bet. And both boatman and backswimmers dive deep so you better have a pole long enought to chase them in the deep end! It is quite satisfying stomping on them once I skim them out.
My husband smashes them with a rock while they're still on the net, then flicks them out in to the yard. I guess he learned that from our neighbor? Yuck. We always send him out a bit before my daughter and I are ready to swim so he can clear them out if we have them. :p He got 20 the other day :eek: - highly unusual for us, we usually only have 2 or 3.
 

the_sphynx

Well-known member
Feb 19, 2019
50
North San Diego County
I have an occasional backswimmer. I mainly get pill bugs lately (roly poly bugs). I have been and still am fighting an invasion of Springtails although the heat lately has put a big dent in the Springtails (thank god). The pill bugs drown and sink to the bottom and the robot gets them. I typically find 6 or so the next day in the cleaner when I clean the filter.
Pool tests are fine when I see backswimmers. If I see a water boatmen it's usually gone in a few hours and I have maybe only seen a handful of those since I had the pool built.
 

norcalpool1

Silver Supporter
Sep 16, 2017
63
Silicon Valley,CA
Backswimmers do not stay on the surface. Those are water skimmers. Backswimmers and boatmen swim way to well to get sucked into a skimmer. Further, water skimmers, and I have those occasionally too, are even more adept at avoiding skimmers. Hand skimming is your only bet. And both boatman and backswimmers dive deep so you better have a pole long enought to chase them in the deep end! It is quite satisfying stomping on them once I skim them out.
I misspoke.. I wanted to say "backswimmers tend to stay just below the water surface, and upside down".
I see water skimmers too occasionally.
I was thinking that a surface skimmer device might help clean the surface of all the bugs that the backswimmers eat but that is something I might try. I don't go that route myself because I have friendly neighborhood black phoebes and flycatchers that like hanging around the pool for those bugs.
 

LoneWolfArcher

Well-known member
May 29, 2019
258
Michigan
I misspoke.. I wanted to say "backswimmers tend to stay just below the water surface, and upside down".
I see water skimmers too occasionally.
I was thinking that a surface skimmer device might help clean the surface of all the bugs that the backswimmers eat but that is something I might try. I don't go that route myself because I have friendly neighborhood black phoebes and flycatchers that like hanging around the pool for those bugs.
The birds definitely help....but then they like to poop on the coping and cement decking. And sometimes in the pool. :(
 

LoneWolfArcher

Well-known member
May 29, 2019
258
Michigan
No backswimmers since Thursday.

Yesterday I was floating in the pool and had a skimmer fly in and land. I shooed him away and watched him fly back off! Lol