Bugs in Hawaii

Bugs and other Little Critters

There are more than 40 species of ants in Hawaii. They can be found everywhere, including ones house. It is recommended to keep the kitchen area clean. If you leave food outside, an ant will find it and bring its “friends” immediately. Also, food that doesn't need to be in the fridge needs to be stored in tight containers if you don't want to find ants in it. They eat pretty much everything – from sugars and proteins to fats. These little animals look tiny and weak, but they can eat themselves through concrete floors and built their nests between ceramic tiles. Ants are just so common in Hawaii, you can't escape them.

One mean ant species is the fire ant. When they bite, it hurts. Unlike their name, they are not of red color. They are called fire ant because their sting is like a second-degree burn. If you don't notice that you're being stung (for example while sleeping), they will sting several times without letting go. In severe cases or if one is allergic, people may suffer a rash, faint, vomit, feel dizzy, have blurred vision, chest pains or abdominal cramps or suffer a shock after being stung.

Centipedes are usually between 5 to 6 inches (12.7 to 15.2 cm) in length but can grow up to 9 inches (22.8 cm). They tend to hide under leaves in backyards and sometimes also make their way into ones house. They like warm, comfortable places, like beds. This critter bites with two pincers and injects a poison to which some people are allergic.

Cockroaches are harmless, but most people think they are nasty little critters. They can grow up to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in length and some of them have wings and can fly. Roaches can be found in many people’s homes, even on higher floors. They can be kept under control by keeping the house clean and free of food lying around and by chemicals and roach traps.

The gecko is an animal commonly seen in Hawaii. It's a small lizard with large eyes and sticky toes. It's about two inches (5 cm) long. It is a hospitable creature that likes to live in people's homes. Even if you don't like small critters like these, try not to be scared of the gecko. The good thing about them is that they eat many times their weight in bugs. So leave them alone and it will eat insects and cockroaches that live in and around your house. Besides, killing a gecko is considered bad luck in Hawaii. For many Hawaiians, the gecko is an aumakua, or family god.

There are several types of mosquitoes in Hawaii. They like to breed in stagnant water, so it is recommended to get rid of any stagnant water around your house, such as old car tires, flowerpots, or anything else where small amounts of water can collect (except swimming pools of course). Mosquitoes can be found in many parts of the islands, but most of them live in the humid rainforests. So if you're out hiking, you better bring some mosquito repellent with you. One of the major problems with mosquitoes is that they transmit heartworm to pets, especially if the pet is outside overnight. If the pet is left untreated, it will die from this disease. There are heartworm pills available, which one can give to pets as a precaution. Mosquitoes can also carry dengue fever, malaria and other diseases, which can be deadly to humans.

Spiders have made Hawaii their home as well. They come in all sizes and there are many types. One of the most common is the cane spider (also known as banana spider), which is shy and harmless. They have three-inch (7.6 cm) leg spans but can grow even bigger than that. They look brown and hairy and will only bite if cornered. Then there's the black widow and the brown widow. Their bites are dangerous and require a visit to the doctor. The brown widow is a little smaller than the black widow and its venom is twice as potent as the black widow's venom. However, brown widows don't inject as much venom, are more timid and don't tend to defend their web. Then there's the daring jumping spider, which measures only a half inch in size. It might look harmless, but its bite is painful and may produce redness, swelling and blistering.

Several frog and toad species can be found in the islands. A very common one is the coqui frog, which is about 2 inches (5 cm) long. They can be quite annoying because at night, the males have a loud, persistent mating call, preventing people from falling asleep. A very big toad is the bufo marinus, which you better leave alone. It can release a toxin from glands behind its ears, which can be deadly to pets. So if you see one, keep your pets away or put on thick gloves, put the toad into a bucket and carry it away into the forest.

Head lice, also known as ukus in Hawaii, are another type of bug that can be annoying to have. They are common among school children, who sometimes come home with a head full of lice. Fortunately, over-the-counter shampoos are readily available, or you can see a doctor for a stronger treatment.