6 Different Types of Cockroaches in Hawaii

Hawaii might be a remote place away from mainland USA, but it still has some of the most common North American roaches.

Hawaii is also the home of a few other less common roaches. All of these can make their way into homes as temporary or even permanent pests when there’s enough food.

American cockroaches, German cockroaches, and Oriental cockroaches are the most common species in Hawaii. Other roach species are also found here to a lesser extent. These are the Surinam and the Australian cockroaches.

While not on the mainland, Hawaii still has most North American cockroaches as they can travel to the most remote areas of the world through the trading of goods and transport.

Cockroaches can also travel to islands with raw materials and imported foods. Cockroaches also emerge in remote areas such as Hawaii in decaying organic matter.

6 types of cockroaches in Hawaii

The following cockroach species are the most common across Hawaii. They are all attracted to food inside the house and can invade homes easily.

1 – American cockroaches

American cockroaches are the most common cockroach in Hawaii. This roach is also known as the Waterbug cockroach, but it doesn’t live in water.

This species is identified by a shiny brown body. Roaches have a flattened body shape, long antennae, and 3 pairs of legs.

These roaches have an average size of 1.6 inches. They are very easy to spot around the house due to their large body and their oval flattened shape which makes them instantly recognizable.

Roaches of this genus are known for having wings. 2 long wings cover their bodies but they rarely use them. However, American cockroaches can use their wings on occasion, especially when it comes to flying indoors and being attracted to lights.

american cockroach

American cockroaches are some of the most resilient bugs. They like warm humid places but they can survive even in the driest places of Hawaii as long as they can find drinking water.

These roaches are common in humid places around the house such as basements, bathrooms, and the kitchen.

Seeing these cockroaches inside the house should not be taken lightly as they have the potential to spread diseases.

American cockroaches pick up disease-causing bacteria from decaying food as well as from the dark humid places they live in. They can easily spread salmonella and similar diseases.

American roaches commonly enter homes through sewers. They pick up harmful bacteria along the way. Sealing all entry points is one of the first steps to keeping them out.

2 – German cockroaches

German cockroaches have an oval shape, and a brown color and they grow to a maximum size of 0.6 inches. The average size of these cockroaches is 0.5 inches.

Highly similar to the American cockroach, the German cockroach also needs a warm place indoors to survive. It also needs humidity and a source of water. Unlike the American cockroach, the German cockroach cannot fly.

This species can further be identified by its food and activity levels. German cockroaches are nocturnal bugs. They only occasionally come out during the day, mainly for food.

Otherwise, these cockroaches are very active in the dark or at night. They are attracted to meats and starches. These roaches are ready to become active during the day to get to decaying meats and other decaying sugary foods inside the house.

german cockroach

Somewhat more resilient than the American cockroach in cold weather, these roaches can also thrive more in cold basements.

German cockroaches can be eliminated from homes and commercial buildings through the control of exposed food. These roaches tend to eliminate each other in the absence of food as they start to become cannibalistic eating each other.

3 – Oriental cockroaches

Also known as the Black beetle, Oriental cockroaches have a dark brown to the black body. These roaches grow to a size of up to 1.1 inches.

These roaches also have wings, but they cannot fly. Oriental cockroaches are nocturnal and they need to hide in their nests during the day. One of the biggest reasons for people to assume they don’t have Oriental cockroaches in their homes is not seeing them during the day.

Smaller than the American cockroach, the Oriental cockroach uses its tiny body to hide behind walls, under the floor, or outdoors under mulch.

Do Cockroaches Clean Themselves after Touching a Human?

This species requires a lot more humidity than others. It loves sewers and puddling water. It might also thrive in homes with water leaks or high humidity.

The combination of moving through sewers and places that don’t get any sunlight makes this cockroach dangerous to humans.

It carries all types of bacteria that cause serious diseases. The Oriental cockroach is known for spreading salmonella and E.coli.

Oriental cockroaches love decaying organic matter. This includes decaying food, rotting food, garbage, rotting carcasses, and other dead insects and roaches outside or inside the house. They move slower than other roaches and they can sometimes be killed on the spot with a good bug spray.

4 – Surinam cockroaches

The Surinam cockroach is one of the most common roaches in Hawaii. This is the first on the list to mostly live outdoors.

Surinam cockroaches love tropical weather in Hawaii. They are often found in gardens, small parks, and greenhouses. These cockroaches feed on plants and plant roots and they rarely enter homes except to look for potted plants.

Surinam cockroach

Surinam cockroaches grow to a maximum size of 0.98 inches. They have a similar size to Oriental cockroaches but they can’t fly either. At best, they fly very poorly.

Surinam cockroaches are identified by a tan to brown body with brown wings. They have a dark brown or black head being one of the few bi-colored roaches in the state.

These cockroaches can be eliminated easily from the house as they don’t normally like to be indoors. They seek out plants and plant roots which is why they’re mostly found in the garden.

Another distinct trait of Surinam cockroaches is their preferred habitat. They only live close to human settlements, unlike many other cockroaches.

5 – Brown-banded cockroaches

Brown-banded cockroaches get their name from their appearance. These bugs have a brown body with dark banding on the wings.

Brown-banded cockroaches grow to an average size of 1.5 inches. They have an oval flattened shape, similar to most other roaches in Hawaii.

These roaches love dry warm areas inside the house which is why they separate themselves from most other roaches which love high humidity.

Brownbanded Cockroach

Brown-banded cockroaches are routinely found higher up compared to other species. They make their way up to furniture and they can be found in kitchen wall cabinets all the time.

Brown-banded cockroaches aren’t picky eaters. They eat almost anything that can find inside and including cardboard and paper.

Roaches of this species hate the light and they might run away when you discover them inside the house during the day.

Given they like high warmth they might be found behind large electronics such as a refrigerator or an electric oven where there’s extra heat.

6 – Australian cockroach

The Australian cockroach is also common in Hawaii. It’s only slightly smaller than the American cockroach as it can grow to a size of 1.38 inches.

The best way to tell the difference between this roach and other species is by looking at the yellow banding or yellow marks on the head.

Roaches of this genus are cosmopolitan when it comes to habitat and diet as they’re a combination of all other roaches in terms of diet and warmth preferences.

Australian Cockroach

These roaches eat both decaying organic matter as well as plants and plant roots. They live in both dry and humid warm places but they don’t tolerate cold weather.

Australian cockroaches can survive all around the year indoors. Common in tropical areas, this roach loves habitats with mild winters.

The species isn’t native to Australia but it does prefer Hawaii to the rest of the continental US. The warmer climate makes it feel at home here.

This cockroach makes its way indoors from the garden where it’s found eating plants and their roots. These roaches can nest both indoors and outdoors and move between the spaces easily as long as there’s food in both locations.


Hawaii has a unique warm ecosystem that prompts cockroaches to find plenty of plants and decaying food to feed on. From plants to decaying fruits and meats, Hawaii offers plenty of food options through its warm weather.

Most cockroaches in Hawaii can settle indoors. They generally remain indoors until they are driven out, especially if they can find food and water.

Cockroaches in Hawaii can be eliminated when there’s no food or decaying food in or outside of the house. A clean perimeter isn’t hospitable to these roaches.

Most cockroaches in Hawaii are nocturnal. Trying to find them can be a challenge during the day. They can easily be found using a flashlight during the night which is when they prefer to come out looking for food.

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