Insects are a fact of life in Hawaii. Vigilance and preparation are the keys to preventing bugs and unwanted critters from taking up residence in your Hawaii home.
The first line of defense is to shore up all entry points in walls, windows, baseboards, ceilings, screens, sliders and doors. For older, single-wall homes and coffee shacks, caulking works wonders in sealing up the cracks and crevices so that ants, millipedes, centipedes, scorpions, cockroaches and spiders cannot come in. If you have rips or small holes in your screens, you can find patches at the local hardware store, or better yet, replace the entire screen. You can take the screen to your local screen shop, like the Screen Shop in Kailua-Kona, or buy a do-it-yourself kit.
Cockroaches of various species are always threatening to become an uninvited guest in the Hawaii home. A failproof method for dealing with these ungodly pests is to buy a tube of cockroach “bait” gel that can be dabbed into corners under the sink, inside pantries, beneath shelves and drawers, and in other dark and hidden places where cockroaches like to breed. Another popular choice for cockroach control is boric acid, which can be sprinkled in corners and behind the refrigerator. Mix it with a little sugar to increase its attraction potential. Of course the clean up of potential cockroach breeding sites is imperative. Always remember to clean out your closets, pantries and drawers on a regular basis. Cockroaches will ruin your stationary, letters, cards, clothes, books and other valuables. The only good cockroach is a dead one.
If you have a problem with millipedes, Sevin powder sprinkled around the exterior baseboards could help, but these relentless creatures will find a way to get in regardless of what type of pesticide you use. More pronounced during the winter months, millipedes come out at night, attracted to the lights inside your house. One way to trap them before they crawl under your slider is to place a long strip of duct tape, sticky side up, in front of the slider. Although this method is not an “out of sight, out of mind” solution, it does capture the critter before it invades your home. Replace the tape as you accumulate dead carcasses.
Many residents in Hawaii are discovering the powers of citrus oil to control ants, roaches and fleas. GreenSense Citrus Oil is made of a naturally occurring ingredient derived from orange peel oil. It can be sprayed in kitchens, bathrooms, on floors and carpets, and outside. It works by clogging the insect’s breathing holes with a waxy substance, causing suffocation while burning their exoskeleton. The citrus fragrance also repels insects. Some residents use a mixture of vinegar and water on countertops and surfaces to repel ants.
Carpenter ants are often confused with termites. To differentiate a carpenter ant from a termite, look for the telltale, narrow waistline and crooked antennae of the carpenter ant. According to the entomology department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, carpenter ants feed on small insects and on most food found in a home, including meat and grease.
Spraying the rogue carpenter ants won’t solve the problem. If you are able to trace an entry hole in the wall or door, use a can of Term-Out with the flexible hose and needle nozzle, and spray into the hole. In serious cases, rotten paneling and woodwork should be completely replaced.
Of course all the powders and sprays in the world won’t help when you leave food or garbage out. If you don’t have a garbage disposal, you might want to bag your food scraps in the freezer until garbage day or your next dump run. Be sure all surfaces are clean and no particles of food are left around. Additionally, setting up a quarterly spraying program with your local pest control company can go a long way in bug-proofing your home.