Local April 30, 2022

Hawai’i Creepy Crawlers

The Hawaiian Islands are known for their lush, green environment. But as with any temperate, tropical locale comes a host of creepy crawlers, flying vermin and buzzing, biting pests. I’m talking about the insects of Hawaiʻi. In addition to your standard mosquitoes, ants and flies, we also have cockroaches, termites and my least favorite—centipedes. Gross!

I get asked about our bugs by new Oʻahu homeowners a lot, especially when it comes to protecting their property. I recommend that folks hire a pest control service. These professionals help keep insect infestations at bay. And for homeowners that live on the Windward or East side of Oʻahu, which tends to get more rain and is a more humid environment, I recommend that people plug their drains at night. It creates an easy barrier to prevent insects, particularly cockroaches, from getting inside. And lastly, make sure kitchen counters, cupboards and floors are tidy. Mess attracts critters! Here’s a round-up of Hawaiʻi’s most common insects.


As the saying goes, “a cockroach can outlive anything,” these bugs are certainly resilient and prevalent throughout the Islands! Did you know that there are 19 different species of cockroaches that exist in Hawaiʻi?! But only three to four types are considered invasive pests. My least favorite is the really big ones; locally we call them B-52s, after the Air Force bomber! These ones fly and have been known, albeit rarely, to even bite. You’ll more likely see them during the evenings and at night. To avoid them making a home in your home, be sure not to leave food out and plug drains at night.


I hate centipedes. Just thinking about them now makes me shudder. My husband, Mike has even been bit by one! The most common centipede in the Islands, and the one to really look out for, is the Scolopendra subspinipes, also known as the “Vietnamese Centipede  or the “Large Centipede.” These creepy crawlers are brownish-red, and adults can grow to 6 inches to 9-inches, or even longer! Like cockroaches, you’ll most likely see centipedes at night. The venom from their bites can hurt like a bee sting, and may even cause an allergic reaction. Centipedes love warm, damp environments.


There are termites on every Hawaiʻi Island. These small pests love to munch away on wood. In particular, the dry wood and Formosan subterranean and dry wood termites are known to cause damage to homes across the Islands. Researchers with the University of Hawaiʻi College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources estimate that termites cause more than $100 million in damage to structures in Hawaiʻi each year. Again, it’s important to consult with a professional pest control service, especially if you suspect that you have an infestation.

While Oʻahu may be home to many unwelcome insects, there is good news. Thanks to our geographic isolation, the Islands don’t have any land snakes, far fewer poisonous spiders such as the toxic brown recluse, and we have only one species of scorpion, the lesser brown scorpion, but it is a rare sight on Oʻahu.