11 Big Island Pests and What You Need To Know About Them

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pests in hawaiiWhen deciding to purchase a home in West Hawaii, you know you are coming to a completely new environment than the one you left on the mainland. LUVA Real Estate welcomes you to this new land, but you WILL find new insects and other creatures you may not be used to. Depending upon your elevation, the foliage growing around your home, your proximity to Dumpsters, and the amount of rain that can stand stagnant and such, you will be dealing with a variety of “pests.”

Pests, of course, are more “pesty” depending upon your tolerance and patience for them. Just know that if you move to West Hawaii, you have to deal with the fact that you moved to a tropical island. Tropical islands have residents other than people – some of which are native and some are not – that you can reside happily with or get an exterminator.  These “neighbors” are another thing to consider, based upon where you want to live.


centipede in hawaiiSome of our other insects or creatures are simply a nuisance. These guys sting. And they get into your bed, in your shoes, under your appliances, and are at the campgrounds. All places you find yourself barefoot, without a light, and vulnerable to them coming out at night to crawl around. DO NOT step on them, as they curl up backwards and can sting you. The stings of the red centipedes tend to be the least painful and the stings of the more rare neon blue centipedes are the worst. Blue centipedes rarely grow to a large size, so if you see one of the larger bugs, it will most likely be the red variety. People have reported seeing centipedes of up to a foot long! They are very quick. If you want to avoid them getting into bed with you, skip using bed skirts.


If you hate things that fly, you may not enjoy our 2-½ inch flying cockroaches. They don’t breed in our homes; they breed in fertile and moist grounds. They are attracted to light and enjoy getting through broken screens and open doors. Good news is that they don’t bite, although they fly and can be VERY disconcerting to new residents.

Coqui Frogs

coqui frog in hawaiiCoqui frogs were accidentally brought to the island from Puerto Rico about twenty five years ago and started their invasion in Hilo. They are dime-sized little amphibians that need moisture in their environment to live, so you won’t find them in the lava fields of other dry environments like Kohala and Waikoloa Village. SOME neighborhoods in Kona have them, but most of us, upon hearing even one little sound of “Co kee!” will track them down and feed them to the nearest chicken. Before settling into a new home, listen to the neighborhood after dark. The frogs are the loudest in the summer months. Some people actually enjoy their “melodic song”.


Some people consider the Madagascar green geckos to be pests. Many people like them because they don’t bite and they eat the insects in your home. They are beautiful green, blue, and red lizard-like creatures and they can be entertaining as they enjoy licking jams and sweet foods but also attacking and eating gnats, mosquitos, small cockroaches, and sometimes, each other. They DO poop down the walls, so most people would rather they live outside.

Mice and Rats

Rats love Dumpsters and the rotting fruit around homes and they have a tendency to live in attics, basements and in the walls.  Mice come out of the fields and into the homes on the Kohala Coast. Call an exterminator.


If you see these wily little beady-eyed squirrel-like creatures, just leave them alone. They won’t come in your house, come up to you, or do much besides get into your garbage if you leave it outside your door. They like to live with the feral cat population where they get good meals, and the cats leave them alone because they are notoriously vicious.


We have a few different kinds of spiders, but the only one that is truly poisonous is the brown recluse, and it’s pretty rare in regular neighborhoods. Farms, shacks, and sheds are more likely to have these. One spider that we have here that can scare you simply by its size is the Cane Spider. It’s huge and likes to hide out in dark places, mostly up mauka, but they eat insects in your home, as well.


These are just about anywhere there is any water, and they are more prevalent when we have our rainy season in the summer. Avoid inadvertently breeding them by having bromeliads around your property, where they can breed in the water caught in the cups of that plant. Remember to avoid letting water stand for long periods of time on your property in old pots, unused fish ponds, etc. We had a Dengue Fever scare a few years ago and know the dangers these insects can pose.

Little Fire Ants

fire ants in hawaiiA relative newcomer to Kona, the little fire ant’s sting burns strongly and itches intensely for weeks and they pose potential danger through allergic reactions. Brought to the island accidentally through tropical plants, and originally found in Puna, they now can be found in Kona. As they are drawn to moisture and shade, these pests don’t create nests in the ground, but reside in trees and bushes.

Feral Pigs

This pest is more for those of you who may be thinking about buying a farm or land up mauka. The pigs like to tear up the soil looking for food and water and will ruin your landscaping. They have been absolutely destructive for many of the native plants in Hawaii. We have one word for these guys: Imu. They make fantastic pulled pork.

Minah and Francolin Birds

These birds are very noisy, and if they nest near your house, you will NEVER sleep in past sunrise! When the sun has been up for about 30 minutes they disperse, so get up and get some coffee. They also enjoy any pet food left outside. A side note on the Minah birds…they hop all over the roads. You will think you are going to hit them, and just as you are about to swerve, they move.

Some people find the cawing, clucking, cooing of tropical birds to be the ambient sound of Hawaii, much like some people actually enjoy the chirping of the Coqui frogs.

If you are in need of an exterminator, you can contact Mason Exterminators . or contact LUVA Real Estate for a list of other exterminators we respect and refer out to our new homeowners.