Hawaii’s rich biodiversity and unique wildlife are among its most attractive qualities. The tropical climate on the islands is heaven for over 3,000 native species of plants and animals. As a homeowner, however, you probably want to keep nature where it belongs: outside.
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Here are five house pests you’ll likely encounter in Hawaii, and a few tips on how to keep them out of your home.
Hawaii is home to three species of centipedes: the stone centipede, the tiny Mecistocephalus, and the Chinese Red Head. While all three are common household pests, homeowners need to be particularly wary of the last one. Also known as the Vietnamese Centipede, the Chinese Red Head is one of the largest centipedes in the world. They often growing up to 8 inches long. This species preys on nearly everything and can even attack when provoked. Although not poisonous, the bite from a Chinese Red Head centipede is extremely painful.
Because centipedes prefer dark, damp places, you may find them in closets, hiding in yard clippings, and even creeping in crevices in your lanai. In order to reduce the number of potential hiding places, keep clutter and debris away from your home and caulk any cracks or open spots.
Another extremely common house pest in Hawaii is the cockroach. The three species you’ll most likely encounter are American, German, and Surinam (or “burrowing”) cockroaches.
Cockroaches breed in warm environments and can enter your home through even the smallest openings. You can encounter them everywhere from kitchen floors to boxes of clothing. Since cockroaches can adapt to almost any surrounding, they are notoriously difficult to eradicate. However, proper sanitation and simple Borax traps have proven very effective in keeping these crunchy crawlies out of your home.
Spiders feed on a number of insects and can help lower the number of pests in your home. However, be on the lookout for two poisonous species in Hawaii: the black widow spider and the brown violin (or brown recluse) spider.
Although a few people die every year from the bites of these spiders nationwide, these house pests are usually not aggressive unless attacked or threatened.
If you see an unusually high number of spiders in your house, you should seal any holes or cracks you can find around your doors, windows, and crawlspaces. It’s also a good idea to keep any shrubs or bushes well-trimmed and away from the siding of your property.
If you see a rat in your home or scurrying across your lanai, it’s most likely a common house rat. Averaging from 5.5 to 7 inches in length, these rodents are usually gray or brown with light tan bellies.
The common house rat is a “commensal creature”. This means they like to be near humans, entering homes through cracks to seek shelter and have a steady supply of food. They also have extremely sharp and strong teeth that can gnaw through electrical wires, wooden doors, walls, and more. While rodent control services are your best bet when it comes to ridding your property of rats, home renovations can be employed as a preventative measure.
Ant infestations are among the most commonly reported pest problems in Hawaii. Since ants are social insects that live in enormous colonies, if you see an ant in your home, you can assume that there are hundreds more. On the islands, be on the lookout for carpenter ants and tropical fire ants.
Carpenter ants are reddish black in color and feed on wood, which means they can cause widespread structural damage. Tropical fire ants are tiny and bright red; they attack in swarms and have an extremely painful sting that can cause severe allergic reactions. Since ants enter your home through cracks around doors or windows, it’s important to seal all openings and renovate any old or decrepit structures.
Many of the household pests above can enter your property through cracks or unsealed openings. While poison traps and caulking may work in the short-term, renovations and remodeling can help you replace old features that leave your home vulnerable to annoying (or even dangerous) house pests.
Photo by Boston Public Library