What’s Bugging You, Kauai?

My 17-year old cousin made her first visit to Kauai, complete with a few squeals and screams whenever she encountered one of the ever-present insects and other creepy-crawly critters.


Autumn’s first exposure to a super-sized island insect was on the Sleeping Giant trail where she spotted one of Hawaii’s venomous centipedes. She let out a quick cry and dashed up the muddy pathway, while I stopped to snap a photo of this ugly “buggah.”

I didn’t make fun of her reaction because I know from experience, you don’t want to mess with these massive centipedes since this particular species (Scolopendra subspinipes) can grow up to 12-inches long, has an extremely painful bite, and highly poisonous venom which has sent some people to the local E.R.

cane-spiderAutumn’s next vocal cord workout came when she spotted a brown cane spider (Heteropoda venatoria) in our cottage bathroom.  He was only a 2-inch “baby,” but a spider with a big body and eight hairy legs can be very intimidating if you’ve never seen one before. Cane spiders are super fast, so it took me nearly a dozen tries before I could snag him with a paper towel and take him outside, unharmed, because you should never kill any of the local insect-eaters.

hawaiian-cockroachI’m sorry my cousin didn’t get to see one of Kauai’s giant cockroaches (periplaneta americana) because I’m sure she would have shared my revulsion and disgust. There are multiple varieties of roaches on the Garden Isle, but my least favorite are the ones locals have dubbed “B-52 bombers” because these lovely cockroaches not only crawl… They fly!

My cousin heard a firsthand account of the horror caused by these flying roaches at Calvary Chapel North Shore.  That’s where the pastor’s wife shared how she was relaxing on her lanai eating some potato chips when a flying cockroach, apparently aiming for her snack, detoured and dive-bombed into her cleavage.

OMG!  Of course, Ana Rex says she screamed, jumped up and down, and shook her blouse to get the creepy thing out of her clothing.  How grose!

baby-geckoAutumn’s biggest freak out came when she encountered a tiny house gecko in the shower, clinging to her bath sponge.  Some people are scared of these harmless lizards, but I think they’re cute and Hawaiians love them because they eat mosquitoes, red fire ants, and nasty cockroaches.

Most geckos come out after dark and make cheery chirping sounds as they cling to windows, walls and ceilings using special toe pads with suction cups. The main drawback is the droppings geckos leave behind after gorging themselves on roaches and other insects during their nightly bug buffet.

dsc_0026During the daylight, you may get to see a colorful gold dust day gecko.  We spotted this brilliant green one, with red stripes and blue eyes, at the Kauai Coffee Company plantation.  A similar one was seen hanging out by the Moloa’a Fruit Stand, a perfect place for geckos that like to eat ripe fruit and drink nectar, as well as munch on a variety of insects.

I end by writing that this blog isn’t meant to scare anyone, or discourage tourists from visiting Kauai.  It’s just a “reality check” that unusually large insects and a variety of tropical critters live on the Garden Isle, so be prepared for them to greet you.

And remember, you can still celebrate the fact there are no snakes here!




4 thoughts on “What’s Bugging You, Kauai?

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