One of my greatest fears in life, especially life in Hawaii - is the COCKROACH!! Such small creatures can make me scream, run, and hide...even though they seem to love me. My fear dates back to my days in grade school. I placed an authentic-looking, rubber roach in my teacher’s desk. She was outside, and I wanted to see her reactions when she found it. (No, I didn’t get punished). Roaches have been with me ever since. I think it has something to do with “bachi”- as we say in Hawaii - what goes around comes around.

Hawaii is home to over a dozen species of cockroaches. Why go anywhere else when they can live in paradise. For most of us, roaches are among our worst pests.


  • Use an odorless insecticide spray.
  • Lay several roach traps around suspected areas and pathways.
  • Put roach gel baits around areas where roaches frequent.
  • Seal entry points with exterior caulking or weather stripping.
  • Fix broken screens with adhesive screen patches or other repair kits.
  • Repair leaky faucets in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Cover drains with metal screen traps or rubber stoppers.
  • Keep the lever to the bathtub drain in the closed position.
  • Pour some bleach down the drains.
  • Rid screen traps of any traces of food.
  • Empty trash daily and spray the liner with a disinfectant.
  • Vacuum or sweep kitchen floor each night.
  • Seal all food in airtight containers if left out.
  • Wipe counter tops using a disinfectant spray.
  • Avoid leaving pet food out overnight.


  • Make a solution of 3 tbsp. dish detergent and water in spray bottle.
  • Place used coffee grounds in a can. Pour some water to barely cover the grounds.
  • Use a spray bottle with 3 tsp. fabric softener and 2 cups water.
  • Lay some bay leaves around suspected areas.
  • Place some food in a wide-mouth jar. Spread petroleum jelly inside the neck of the jar.
  • Combine 1 part of boric acid, 1 part sugar, and 2 parts flour. Sprinkle in crevices.
  • Put some baking soda with a small amount of sugar in a small bottle cap.
  • Leave a small container of ice cream out overnight.
  • Mix 1 cup borax, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1 tbsp. cornstarch and 1 tbsp. of water. Roll the paste into small balls and place a few in a sandwich bag. Leave unsealed then set the bag where roaches are a problem.
  • Add equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar in a shallow bowl.
  • Soak a few cotton balls in mouthwash (mint). Leave cotton balls around kitchen areas.

Want to know more about Roaches?

The three most common types of roaches found in Hawaii are called the American, German and Surinam roaches.

American cockroach

The reddish-brown ones that FLY are known as the American cockroach and are the largest of the three. I know practically all of you have dealt with those buggers - as HUGE as two inches or more in length. Their wings appear to spread beyond their bodies as they scamper mysteriously. They are better known as “B-52s” to some of us. One would perform a solo flight out of nowhere, land perfectly on your if it belonged to you. I recently picked up a B-52 with my bare accident for the first time in my life. It was already dead but still (I’m getting chicken skin just writing this).

The American cockroaches are considered nocturnal creatures, hiding in warm, moist areas,  such as stone walls and tree barks. Not to forget inside of our homes! They enter our dwellings through crevices or by crawling under doors. They’ll fly right through a hole in the window screen.

I’ve seen them come up from the drains in my bathroom. A huge one had the nerve to squeeze right through the (screen) drain cover. The roach transformed into an elongated shape then escaped...unbelievable! The B-52s usually enter our homes looking for food, water, or a place to sleep. No favorite dish, they will feast on anything including feces.

German Cockroach

We have all met the German cockroach (I’m not scared of those). The German species are not as intimidating and are much smaller; typically, over an inch in length. Its color ranges from light brown to nearly black. The German cockroaches can be distinguished by two dark streaks running across its back. Although this breed is winged, it appears to float across the surface rather than fly (can be fast).

Found most often at restaurants (sometimes in your soup) and in our homes. They look for moist areas, can be seen during the day, and are known to infest our homes. Behind and in kitchen appliances, cabinets, cupboards, and in cracks are some of their hangouts. They are seen roaming in packages and boxes or crawling on our bathroom sinks. Their legs pick up germs as they travel (even in sewer pipes). Roaches can easily transfer bacteria onto our food and EVERYTHING else they contact. The German cockroach has an appetite for a variety of foods, even soap and toothpaste.

Surinam Cockroach

The Surinam cockroaches are destructive plant pests. They are rather small, up to an inch in length, dark brown to black in color with shiny brown wings. Not to worry, the Surinam cockroach doesn’t fly too well. This variant is noted as the “burrowing” roach. The Surinam roach commonly makes its home in our yards. We see them tunneling through loose, moist soil, compost, and mulch. They often hide underneath rocks and potted plants. If you have a garden or greenhouse, these culprits can be problematic. They come out at night to feed off your plants and cause considerable damage to the vegetation.

These pests look unassuming - BUT be careful. They are sneaky! I was sitting in the yard one evening, then all of a sudden, something was biting my thigh. Since I was wearing jeans, I had no idea what it was. Being outdoors, I felt rather helpless and kept squirming, trying to stop the movement and biting sensation. One of my friends exclaimed, “Relax, relax!” Little did she know something was roaming around in my pants...(I got stung by a bee the same way).