Most of Hawai‘i’s peskiest insects and bugs have been imported. The list includes cockroaches, mosquitos, centipedes, scorpions, termites, and fruit flies. All have arrived since 1778.
The first cockroach recorded by name from Hawai‘i was the burrowing, Surinam, or bicolored cockroach in 1822. The Madera cockroach, largest of the roaches currently found in the Islands (up to 50 mm long) was initially recorded in 1896 or 1897. By 1948, there were 18 species of roaches living in Hawai‘i.
The night-biting mosquito apparently was imported in water casks on a ship or ships from Mexico between 1826 and 1830.
Centipedes are arthropods rather than insects. The large species, which has twenty pairs of walking legs and grows to a length of six or more inches, was introduced as early as 1829. So were scorpions.
All four of the termites found in the Islands are immigrants. The earliest arrival, evidently before 1869, was the dry-wood termite. The lowland tree termite and forest-tree termite were first recorded in 1883. The subterranean termite was discovered in 1907 or earlier.
Fruit flies were first noted in 1895, when the melon fly was accidentally introduced from the Orient. The Mediterranean fruit fly reached Hawai‘i from Australia about 1907. Late in World War II the Oriental fruit fly arrived, apparently from Saipan. These insects attack almost all kinds of fruits and vegetable and are exceptionally destructive.
By Robert C. Schmitt