Creepy Crawlers and Bugs in Hawaii

Hawaii is a tropical paradise filled with towering mountains, dense forests, flowing streams, waterfalls, and more of nature’s beauty. However, amongst all this beautiful flora and fauna, lies creepy critters crawling, jumping, and flying around. 

If you are moving to or visiting Hawaii, you may have some questions about its insects and critters. What bugs are in Hawaii? Are there poisonous insects in Hawaii? Are there scorpions or snakes in Hawaii? While Hawaii does have many interesting insects and other critters, since it is an island, some bugs or other vicious animals do not exist in the Hawaiian Islands. 

What bugs do not exist in Hawaii?

Some people may envision life in Hawaii includes waking up with a scary insect on your face or being attacked by a killer swarm of giant ants. While it is not guaranteed that these scenarios may not happen to you, they are extremely rare.

In fact, many bugs in the U.S. Mainland or other countries of the world do not exist in Hawaii. Due to Hawaii’s geographical status as an island, many insects and other scary animals have never existed in Hawaii. Here are some terrifying creatures that are not typically found in the wild in Hawaii:

  • Poisonous land snakes
  • Poisonous dart frogs
  • Black widow spiders
  • Alligators
  • Crocodiles
  • Raccoons
  • Squirrels
  • Lions
  • Tigers
  • Rhinos
  • Bears

What are the worst bugs in Hawaii? 

Bed Bugs

Did you wake up itching after a restless night of sleep with swollen red marks around your body? Bed bugs in Hawaii are unfortunately a common occurrence, especially in some condominium buildings in Honolulu, due to the number of people living there and higher likelihood of bed bugs entering the building. 

What are bed bugs? In Hawaii, bed bugs are small – only about 1mm to 7mm in size. They are flat bugs that eat human and animal blood in the night. Luckily, bed bugs are not known to spread diseases.

How do bed bugs enter Hawaii homes? Often bed bugs hide in objects during the day and move from place-to-place as these object travel. Bed bugs have been found hiding in mattress seams, bed frames, headboard, dressers, luggage, clothes, bedding, and almost anywhere they can find a spot to hide.

How can I get rid of bed bugs? The Hawaii Department of Health says bed bug bites can be treated with antiseptic or hydrocortisone lotions or creams or that an antihistamine pill can be taken. If you have an infestation of bed bugs in your home, it is recommended that you call a professional or utilize pesticides specifically formulated to treat bed bugs. All laundry should be cleaned by washing it with hot water and drying it with high heat. Bed bugs cannot survive in high heat. Also, you might want to replace your bed, if the infestation is bad, bagging the old bed in plastic to kill the bugs.

While it is nearly impossible to fully prevent bed bug infestations, as these small critters are found on all the Hawaiian Islands and are transported through traveling objects, some suggestions to prevent bed bugs in Hawaii include the following:

  • Inspect furniture before bringing it inside your home.
  • Remove clutter around the bed, like clothing, old furniture, or stacks of books.
  • Repair peeling wallpaper to eliminate a common hiding place.
  • Tighten loose electrical switches.
  • Always look at luggage while travelling to ensure you are not travelling with bed bugs.

Termites

When you buy a home in Hawaii, you will go through a termite inspection during the closing period, prompting many homeowners to wonder about termites in Hawaii. 

What are the termites in Hawaii? Termites arrived in Hawaii within the past 100 years and two types are the most prominent: the Formosan subterranean termites and the West Indian drywood termites. These little creatures, which often are unseen, are known to cause over $100 million in damage in Hawaii per year, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa, College of Tropical Agriculture.

How do termites enter homes in Hawaii? Termites’ main food source is wood, with subterranean termites living underground and drywood and dampwood termites living in wood that is at or above ground level. Subterranean termites build tunnels, known as “mud tubes,” to enter homes through the ground and then to go on to enter all the wood in a building, causing major destruction and even homes to completely fall. Drywood termites do not follow a pattern but rather produce holes in wood and often can be more easily controlled into certain sections of wood.

How can I get rid of termites? If you see termite damage, immediately contact a professional. The treatment will depend on the type of termite. For drywood termites, spot treatment can be done with insecticides. However, if the damage is extensive, the entire home may need to be fumigated or “tented.” Termite baiting is a relatively new measure to catch and kill termites, especially subterranean types.

How can I prevent a termite infestation? Termites are a serious threat to Hawaii homes, so it is important to take preventative measures to limit your home’s termite exposure.

  • The best way to prevent termites is to have regular inspections by professionals, as their damage can be hard to see by an untrained eye, especially when it comes to subterranean termites in Hawaii with their mud tunnels.
  • Use treated wood or steel framing when building homes.
  • Thoroughly inspect any wood or furniture for termite damage or termite fecal matter. Get rid of any termite infested wood immediately.
  • Keep your windows screened to keep flying termites from entering.
  • Paint all exposed wood surfaces.
  • Add physical or chemical barriers (or both) where any home structures meet the soil to prevent subterranean termites from entering your home.
  • Tent your home for termites about every 10 years.

Cockroaches

Roaches in Hawaii are unfortunately so common, that locals have given them a nickname, the B-52. This nickname refers to the B-52 bomber airplane used heavily by the Air Force since the 1950s. While the nickname may sound very scary, it is important to know that cockroaches in Hawaii are generally not harmful to humans.

What are the roaches in Hawaii? There are nearly twenty different species of cockroaches in Hawaii, and they are almost everywhere. Even the cleanest Hawaii home is likely to encounter a roach. In Hawaii, these roaches fly, crawl, and eat any food they can find. However, Hawaii roaches are not known to be venomous. 

How can I get rid of cockroaches? There are many traps and sprays available at all hardware stores and supermarkets in Hawaii to spray for cockroaches. Some people choose to simply smack the roach themselves to kill it. If you have a major infestation, contact a professional to thoroughly spray for cockroaches and to do preventative sprays thereafter.

How can I prevent roaches in my home? Walking into a room and seeing a huge flying bug inside can be shocking. There are a few preventative measures to lessen the likelihood of encountering a cockroach inside in Hawaii; however, realize that cockroaches will be see on walls and across sidewalks when outdoors.

  • Block holes in walls, under doors, around light fixtures, and in windows to prevent roaches from entering.
  • Close your windows or install tight screens, so cockroaches do not fly in at night.
  • Clean the dishes and take out the trash regularly! Cockroaches are looking for any kind of food they can get.
  • Have a professional regularly spray your home for cockroaches to prevent a major infestation.

Centipedes

Centipedes in Hawaii are possibly the most feared among the locals. There are said to be three types of centipedes in Hawaii, and the scolopendra subspinipes type has venomous bites, known to be very painful and even a cause to go to the hospital for some people. The centipede will bite hard and often only releases after a strong beating. While very painful, these bites do heal almost 100% of the time, often in less than one week. 

How big can centipedes in Hawaii get? Centipedes range in size from one to twelve inches. However, whether they are big or small, their bites are known to be painful. Centipedes in Hawaii are often red, orange, or brown, and have 30 scary legs.

Where are centipedes found in Hawaii? They are found indoors and outdoors. If you are planting a garden, you are likely to encounter a centipede in the dirt. If you are building a wall, a centipede may be there. Under carpets, on wet bathroom floors, in kitchens: these are all areas in the home where a centipede may be found.

How can I prevent centipedes? 

  • Similar to preventing cockroaches, block holes in walls, under doors, around light fixtures, and in windows to prevent centipedes from entering.
  • Clean your house at least weekly.
  • Avoid dampness in your home. If the floor is wet, mop it up. If there are leaks in walls or around faucets, use caulk to fill them or contact a professional.
  • Avoid sleeping on the floor, as centipedes are often found on the ground.

Spiders

Spiders can be found all over the Hawaiian Islands, from the top of the mountains to the seaside, and inside buildings in between. There are said to be over 200 different species of spiders in the islands, with a couple highly venomous types. Here are some of the most commonly sited spiders in Hawaii:

  • Brown Widow / Brown Violin Spider – highly venomous, brown and black striped legs, females have a red mark on their stomach like an hourglass
  • Southern Black Widow – highly venomous, bigger body, six eyes, visibly segmented bodies
  • Hawaiian Garden Spider – less venomous, striped yellow and black legs
  • Cane Spider – less venomous, ridiculously huge brown hairy spider
  • Hentz Orb-Weaver – less venomous, brown sider
  • Western Spotted Orb-Weaver – less venomous
  • Hawaiian Happy-face Spider – less venomous, yellow and red
  • Spiny-backed Orb-Weaver – less venomous, large white back
  • Red House Spider – less venomous
  • Grey House Spider – less venomous
  • Barn Funnel Spider – less venomous, brown and skinny
  • Kauai Cave Wolf Spider – less venomous, black

How can I get rid of spiders in Hawaii? 

If you have a spider in your house in Hawaii, there are several ways to get rid of it. It is important to note if the spider is venomous or not. If it is venomous, call an expert. If not, you could simply move the spider outdoor by trapping it in a cup. A natural remedy to spray the spider is peppermint oil or vinegar mixed with water. Hardware stores and supermarkets in Hawaii have insecticide sprays to kill spiders on contact; sometimes the sprays for spiders and roaches are the same.

How can I prevent spiders from entering my home in Hawaii? Spiders are often drawn to dark and abandoned areas, so preventing spiders in Hawaii starts with preventing those areas.

  • Remove clutter or trash, such as cardboard boxes.
  • Seal any holes or cracks in your home, like advised for cockroaches and centipedes.
  • Clean your home regularly, including closets and corners.
  • Keep your grass cut and your lawn maintained outdoors, and also avoid outdoor clutter.
  • Have an exterminator regularly fumigate your home for spiders and other insects.

Geckos

Geckos arrived in the Hawaiian Islands about 1,500 years ago when the Polynesians brought them on voyaging canoes. Geckos are often desirable in Hawaii households, as people in Hawaii value their abilities to control pests, such as the cockroaches and centipedes described above. 

Today, there are eight species of geckos in Hawaii:

  • Stump-toed gecko
  • Fox gecko
  • Mourning gecko
  • Orange-spotted day gecko
  • Giant day gecko
  • Gold dust gecko
  • Common house gecko
  • Tokay gecko

Hawaii has only three day-geckos species which eat plants, insects, and even sometimes other geckos, while the night geckos eat mainly insects.

How can I get rid of geckos? In Hawaii, it is not advised to get rid of geckos. Geckos are territorial and often will claim a certain place as their own, even making a distinct clicking noise at night to warn other geckos of their territory, and that certain place may be a painting in your bedroom. Instead of killing a gecko, simply escort it to the outside, where it can continue to play its vital role in controlling insects.

Creepy critters and bugs in Hawaii are a part of living in paradise. Unfortunately, some venomous insects have been introduced to the Hawaiian Islands over the years, but fortunately some creatures, such as snakes and other venomous insects, do not exist. Also, it is fortunate that the geckos continue to play a vital role in controlling the insect population.