How to Recognize (and Survive) Roaches in Hawaii

From the common American cockroach to the brown-banded roach, here’s how you can identify and get rid of roaches in your Hawaii home.
Written by Kara Vanderbeek
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Over 19 species of cockroaches can be found across the islands of
, but homeowners can prevent infestations with the right sanitation techniques. If you don’t stop an infestation before it has taken residence in your home, there are natural and chemical treatment options. 
Home to golden-sand beaches, hidden waterfalls, and spectacular volcanoes, Hawaii is the epitome of paradise. However, even paradise comes with its downfalls, and these six-legged creatures are lurking around the surf bums and picturesque palm trees, sending any beach-goer heading for the hills.
Luckily, when equipped with knowledge and tools to prevent and treat a growing colony, you can stop a roach infestation in its tracks.
To help you identify and rid your home of roaches as quickly as possible,
home and auto insurance
app Jerry
has created this guide for everything you need to know about cockroaches in Hawaii.  

Hawaii cockroaches 101: How to recognize a roach

With all that Hawaii has to offer, it’s no wonder that roaches have taken residence in the Aloha State. Unfortunately, these creepy-crawlies are no stranger to Hawaii homes, and you’ll likely discover an unwanted housemate at one point or another.
To understand the best ways to prevent and eliminate the particular cockroach species you’ve encountered, it’s important to know the differences between the main types of roaches found in Hawaii.

American cockroaches

American roaches, or “B52 roaches” as they’re known among Hawaii locals, are the largest roach species found across the United States. These colossal creatures measure 2 inches in length and are reddish-brown. To add to their allure, American roaches are equipped with wings and long antennae. 
You can find B52 roaches both indoors and outdoors, typically near a food source—think sewers, trash, gardens, bathrooms, kitchens, and drains. As you can imagine, they pick up an assortment of bacteria along their travels, and having these roaches in your home is unhealthy and dangerous.

German cockroaches

German cockroaches can be found across every island of Hawaii, particularly in areas with man-made structures. Much like their American counterparts, these creatures carry an array of diseases and allergens and should be eliminated from your home as soon as possible. 
German roaches tend to be 0.5 inches long or smaller, making them easy to miss. To identify this species, look out for their light brown to pale yellow color, flat bodies, long yellow wings, and two stripes behind their heads.

Brown-banded cockroaches

Brown-banded cockroaches, though less common than other species, can be found thriving in the tropical Hawaii climate. Unlike other species, the brown-banded roach prefers areas with less access to food and water and can be found in closets, living rooms, and garages
Pay particular attention to drier areas of your home, like ceilings, shelving, furniture, and upper walls, as these creatures like to climb up high to breed, find a spot to attach their eggs, and feed on anything they can find. This species can be identified by the brown bands that stretch across the front of their bodies.

Suriname cockroaches

This species of roach is only about an inch long and can be found across Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Maui, Lania, Nihoa, and the Big Island. These creatures are brown to black and are most active at night, tunneling through trash, soil, compost, or decayed material.
This species of roach is particularly damaging to chickens, and they are attracted to the feces in chicken coops. Unfortunately, these roaches can carry chicken eye worm, which can cause blindness in chickens. 

Oriental cockroaches

Oriental cockroaches can be distinguished by their glossy, dark brown or black coloring. Smaller than German and American roaches, these creatures are typically around 1 inch in length and can be found in cooler habitats than other roach species. Particularly, Oriental roaches prefer damp areas such as piping and sewers.
MORE: How to get bugs off your car: A handy guide

A guide to cockroach identification

Knowing which roach you’re dealing with can help you to get rid of an infestation as quickly as possible. To distinguish between Hawaii’s most common cockroaches, check out the table below.
Type of roach
Average length
Can it fly?
Where to spot them
American cockroaches
2 inches
Sewers, pipes, basements, kitchen sinks, drains
German cockroaches
0.5 inches
Light brown to pale yellow
Moist areas, water sources, warm appliances
Brown-banded cockroaches
1.5 inches
Dark cherry, black
Males have short wings, females are wingless
Outside, near decaying matter
Suriname cockroaches
1 inch
Brown to black
Males can fly, females can’t
Outside in trash, soil, compost, gardens, chicken coops
Oriental cockroaches
1 inch
Dark brown, black
Damp, cool areas such as sewers or piping

How to get rid of roaches in Hawaii

If you notice the fateful signs of a roach infestation, you should take action as soon as possible to avoid any dangerous diseases or allergens contaminating your home. There are a few courses of action you may take depending on how you want to exterminate the problem. 
If you live with pets or small children, you may want to stick to an all-natural solution, while those who are eager to quickly get rid of the problem may opt for chemical bait stations. If those options don’t do the job, you can call in a professional exterminator.
In any case, you can take action by getting rid of any food sources on which the six-legged invaders could be feasting, effectively starving the population. You also can seal anyentry points to your home using wood filler, steel mesh, or silicone caulker. 

Five natural roach killers

Ready to eliminate the roaches in your home? These all-natural solutions will do the trick while keeping chemicals and toxins out of your home.
  1. Diatomaceous earth: The fossilized algae in diatomaceous earth works to dehydrate the cockroach exoskeleton upon contact. With a sprinkled coating in areas of roach activity, you can safely and effectively kill off a roach colony. 
  2. Baking soda: For an easy and effective method of roach extermination, look no further than your kitchen cupboard. Baking soda will cause high levels of gas in roaches upon ingestion, causing them to burst and die. 
  3. Boric acid: Create your own cockroach bait station with a spoonful of peanut butter and boric acid to lure in your unwanted guests and kill them upon ingestion. 
  4. Borax: When combined with white table sugar, this laundry product will dehydrate and kill any roaches that ingest the mixture. 
Although these methods are effective, they will take longer than a chemical insecticide alternative and may require several treatments. Further, these elimination tactics are not for the faint of heart and will require you to locate and dispose of the dead roach bodies.

Chemical roach killers—and when to hire an exterminator

For efficient and successful results, the following roach control pesticides are your best bet. 
  • Bait stations: Place bait stations in areas of your home where you’ve noticed roach activity. Once a roach consumes the bait and dies, the rest of the colony feed on their dead pal, and the colony will soon be wiped out completely.
  • Gels: Place insecticide-saturated gels into the crevices in your home, under appliances, sinks, and in closets, and your roach colony will be killed at the source.
  • Sprays: Spray areas around garbage bins, water sources, and house entry points with an insecticide solution to quickly eliminate large infestations. 
Chemical roach killers, though fast-acting, are toxic to pets and humans. Keep any insecticides in your home away from children, pets, and food to minimize potential contamination or poisoning. 
Remember, if you’ve tried your hand at several remedies and a cockroach colony continues to linger in your home, you can contact a professional exterminator to handle the job.

How to keep cockroaches from coming back

Finding a cockroach population in your home can be equal parts disgusting and traumatizing. As such, once you’ve gotten rid of your pesky housemates, you’ll want to ensure you never have to deal with the problem again.
To maximize roach control in your home, incorporate these preventative measures into your routine:
  • Keep your house clean: Roaches are attracted to anything they can feed on. By keeping your dishes clean, removing crumbs, taking out the garbage, and mopping your floors regularly, you will eliminate roach attraction to your home.
  • Store food properly: Avoid leaving food out on the counters and ensure your other food items have been stored and sealed properly. 
  • Eliminate water sources: Regularly check your home for leaking pipes, spills, or other water sources that may attract a roach family.

How to save money on home and car insurance in Hawaii

Cockroach infestations are an unfortunate aspect of homeownership, but you can reduce your risk of infestation by maintaining your home accordingly.
To take care of your home, you’ll need the right
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Unfortunately, roach infestations are a common part of life in Hawaii. Roaches are found widely across Oahu, Kaui, Molokai, Maui, Lanai, Nihoa, the Big Island, and French Frigate Shoals.
Roaches are typically attracted to warm, moist environments, making Hawaii a perfect place to call home.
Roaches are active all year round in Hawaii. However, the rainy season from October to April brings in an increase of moisture, which may increase the rate of cockroach infestations throughout this period.
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