Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bugs on Maui - Some Nontoxic Ways to Control (Ha Ha Ha! Can You Control?) Them

Hawaii is a bug’s paradise and Maui is no exception. What bug wouldn’t want to live in a warm, subtropical environment and escape from winter? That's why so many bugs want to live in Hawaii!

It is practically impossible to have a bug free house anywhere in Hawaii unless your home is hermetically sealed. If there is a crack, chink, or weak spot, a bug will find its way inside.

The horror for a newbie to Hawaii is the number of bugs that think your home is THEIR home. While you could be a slovenly pig, the Anti-Martha Stewart of Housekeeping, it is more likely that you are just outnumbered by the sheer magnitude of bugs in the subtropics. Welcome to Maui!

Since homes in Hawaii are not um, exactly well-constructed (this is very tactful language), there are probably even more access points for bugs than in a typical American home. If you eat fruit or vegetables, or bring home fresh flowers, there may be bugs crawling around. 

We have ants that eat grout (and cooking oil and sugar), termites that chew wood, and cockroaches that love to enter the house when there’s a heavy rain outside. Not to mention mosquitoes, fruit flies, spiders, centipedes, scorpions and millipedes. (Isn’t nature wonderful?)

Other than monthly pest control (bring it on BugMan!), how can one deter bugs on Maui?

Nontoxic Tips for Dealing with Bugs in Hawaii: A Newcomer’s Survival Guide
  1. Seal up cracks and crevices whenever possible. If you have baseboards, seal them. Check where the flooring meets the walls and seal any cracks. Look inside cabinets and closets and seal any gaps. Look around cable wiring into the house, electrical outlets. Depending on what you’re sealing, you can use grout, clear sealant for kitchen sinks, even duct tape!

  2. Keep window screens well-repaired. Often holes develop.

  3. Clean up after you cook or eat. Don’t leave food laying around outside the fridge. On the mainland, people like to store bread in a bread box. HA HA HA! In Hawaii, you might as well put a big sign on your bread box, saying BUGS DINE FOR FREE! Keep your bread in the fridge. This also keeps it from getting moldy – which can happen in a few days where I live.

  4. Empty your trash often, daily is best. If you have packaged food, wash the packages before putting in the kitchen garbage or you will have a trail of ants going into your garbage can.

  5. If you buy from the farmers market or bring in fresh flowers, wash all your produce and flowers really, really well.

  6. If you buy plants from a nursery, inspect the pots for bugs. This is how Hawaii got invaded with a nasty species of ant, called the Little Red Fire Ant.

  7. Make ant bug traps with boric acid and sugar. I use an 1:1 ratio of boric acid to sugar and place little containers of this solution all around the house.  The cat doesn’t eat it but the ants will take it to their colony and eventually it will kill the colony. Of course a new colony will probably start up in a month.

  8. Trim plants all around the house. Plants growing closely to the house invite ants and bugs to live close to the house, and come inside.

  9. For flying bugs, like gnats you can try putting bowls of water with a little apple cider vinegar and dish soap around the house. They will be attracted to the water and the dish soap breaks down the surface tension so they will drown. (Haven’t tried this one yet.)

  10. Vacuum along your baseboards and much more frequently here than you would anywhere else! Bugs like to get comfortable where they are undisturbed. Spiders especially like to hang out along the baseboards and the ceiling.

  11. Essential oils may become your new best friends. Dab them on your broom before sweeping your ceiling or floor. Try using them in a diffuser to see if they minimize bugs. 

  12. Diotamaceous earth - you can try sprinkling this along baseboards and cracks. I use it in my chicken feed container. Thanks Claire for the reminder!
Other bug posts:
Powder Post Beetles (these are the bugs that eat your grandmother’s heirloom chairs).

Here's a shortcut to the archives for the A to Z Challenge and other blog posts.

The theme of this year’s A to Z Challenge is Living on Maui: A Beginner’s Survival Guide. While I can’t include everything in only 26 short blog posts, this is my foolish attempt.

If you are participating in the A to Z Challenge, please use either Disqus or Facebook to comment below. Please include your link so that I can visit you back, but it might be as late as May!



  1. Most of these are probably not bad to do in other environments either...
    How about geckoes? Do you have geckoes? I hear they eat bugs :D

  2. OOOOH yes! Lots of geckos. But they don't eat enough bugs!

  3. I have heard spraying dish soap (cheap, basic Dawn works best supposedly) and water solution on plants outdoors that collect water helps prevent mosquitoes. BT bits and/or dunks work well for mosquito control. I used to put my dogs food bowl in a dish of water to protect it from ants, though I heard ants will climb over the drowned ants, lol. When baiting mice/rat traps, I need to leave a chunk of bait set around sunset otherwise the ants will eat the bait first. Fleas get drawn to a dish of soapy water and a light shone onto it.Geckos may eat bugs but they also leave poop everywhere which is great for outdoors but not so much in your house. Gotta love life in the tropics :)

  4. Bugs sure seem to love tropical climates. I haven't been to Maui but I did visit in Puerto Rico for a time and, wowie, the bugs there were huge! I saw a spider the size of my hand. And the misquotes still ate me alive even with all the bug repellent I had on. I wish I would have known some of these tips back then, lol.

  5. Oh no! I can imagine those spiders. We have some big ones here too. Luckily for us, they are harmless, though I've heard the brown recluse spider might also live here. Mosquitoes are fierce too!

  6. That sounds like a great idea for the mosquitoes. I'll have to try that though we have so many plants like bromeliads that collect water. Good tips! Yes, I do the one with putting the pet food bowl in another dish of water. It does help!


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