Does Maui Have Ticks? Flies? Bugs? Mosquitos? Snakes?

Maui—land of sand, sun, and…creepy crawlies? Just like everywhere else (except maybe Antarctica), Maui has bugs, sea snakes, and other pests.

Here’s what you need to know about Maui’s bug and snake situation.

Does Maui Have Ticks?

tick on leaf

Yes, Maui has ticks. The main one is the brown dog tick. Although their favorite species to feed on is dogs (hence the name), they will feed on humans and other animals if their typical host isn’t nearby.

Since we aren’t their preferred host, you don’t have to worry as much about brown dog ticks as you would some other species of tick. You can find them in homes, dog kennels, dog parks, campgrounds, and other places frequented by dogs.

When not feeding, these ticks will hide in warm dry areas of a house. They can even complete a whole life cycle indoors.

Although the brown dog tick is most prevalent in Hawaii, that doesn’t mean that other species of ticks can’t be brought over to the island on people unknowingly carrying them from the mainland. These species may carry diseases like Lyme.

Do Maui Ticks Carry Lyme Disease?

In terms of brown dog ticks, they don’t carry Lyme disease. They do, however, transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, a canine disease that can be transferred to humans.

An initial Google search will tell you that Hawaii is the only of the 50 states where you can’t get Lyme disease. And, yes, it’s true that the main species of tick there is not a carrier.

However, Hawaii being a place where Lyme disease doesn’t exist is a myth. There have been reported cases of Lyme in all 50 states. In most cases, Hawaiians contract Lyme disease when visiting the mainland and then notice the symptoms upon their return to the islands.

However, as mentioned above, it’s also possible for ticks to take a plane ride over from the mainland, too.

As with measures on the mainland when it comes to Lyme disease, check yourself for ticks after spending time in their ideal habitat and wear bug repellent when appropriate.

Does Maui Have Flies? 

Yes, Maui has flies. Like just about everywhere else, Maui has your standard housefly. While annoying, these are harmless. They like animal droppings and garbage, not humans.

If you’re on south Maui, you may also experience midges. These are tiny gnat-like bugs that like to buzz around in swarms. Don’t worry, though, they’re also harmless and mostly just a nuisance.

What About Biting Sand Flies?

Sand flies, biting midges, and black flies are all species of biting flies that live in tropical areas. Where Maui is concerned, species that live in the southern U.S., Asia, South Pacific, and Oceania being brought over on accident is the only way you’d potentially come into contact with biting flies.

Should they enter the state of Hawaii, it would likely be on live plants. They could also be transferred via boat and plane passengers coming from the South Pacific.

But wait, what about those stories of people enjoying a day at the beach and feeling as if something was biting them? The most likely culprit is not a biting fly, but sand fleas.

Sand fleas are less “fleas” than crustaceans. In fact, they’re more like mean little shrimp. They  (obviously) live in the sand and nibble on beachgoers. Their bites are harmless and just leave you itchy and irritated.

In short, the only real biting flying bug you’ll need to worry about on Maui are mosquitoes, which we’ll talk more about.

Does Maui Have Bugs?

As you’ve probably gathered by now, yes, Maui has bugs.

The most common creepy crawlies are centipedes, spiders, scorpions, and cockroaches.

Centipedes

The centipedes on Maui are large and angry looking. Some people claim to have seen centipedes up to a foot long (the orange species). Eek!

More than that, they do sting. Fortunately, they aren’t poisonous, just painful. The best course of action to not get stung by a centipede in Maui is to avoid going barefoot. These little guys aren’t hesitant about getting into your bed, shoes, under appliances, campground, etc. They’re on the nocturnal side, so they like to come out at night.

What’s important to remember is NOT to step on them. They can curl backwards and sting you that way, especially if you’re wearing flip-flops or sandals. Bites can vary depending on the species. Most people say bites from red centipedes are the least painful, while bites from blue or orange centipedes pack a serious punch.

One last note about centipedes is that they are very quick. Must be all those legs! The best way to avoid them crawling into bed with you is to stay away from bed skirts.

Spiders

Maui has a few different types of spiders, but only one is poisonous and it’s one you’ve likely already heard of: the brown recluse.

The good news is that these spiders aren’t usually found in your typical neighborhood. You’re more likely to encounter them on farms, in shacks, and in sheds.

Although not poisonous or overly aggressive, one other scary looking spider Maui has is the cane spider. It’s very large and likes to hide in dark places. They can usually be found toward the mountains.

Scorpions

Throughout the Hawaiian islands, you can find the lesser brown scorpion. Unlike some of its brethren, these are non-toxic. It does, however, still sting.

Stings from these scorpions pack a punch and result in pain and swelling similar to a bad wasp sting.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches are everywhere, even Maui. Except, there’s a version in Hawaii that flies.

Although not poisonous or biting, a flying cockroach is not something most of us want to encounter. Luckily, they don’t like to breed in houses. They prefer moist and fertile areas.

These cockroaches are attracted to light and find their way into your space through open doors and holes in screens.

Does Maui Have Mosquitoes?

Yes, Maui has mosquitoes.

These mosquitoes aren’t any different from ones you’ve likely encountered before and can be warded off with DEET-based repellent and coverage from clothing.

Can you get yellow fever, malaria or dengue?

Unfortunately, yes—to some of these at least. 

Dengue Fever

A handful of years ago, Hawaii had a dengue fever scare spread by mosquitoes. Although calmed down now, there is still a possibility of contracting dengue from mosquito bites on Maui.

Although now, it’s more likely to occur if you’re in the wet zones of the deep jungle areas rather than residential or tourist areas. Fortunately, dengue is totally treatable, although still unpleasant and scary.

Malaria

This is one you don’t have to worry about on Maui. Malaria is a parasite-based disease. It’s something you’d have to worry about if you were going to the Amazon, not Hawaii. So you can cross this off your list of bug-related worries on Maui.

Yellow Fever

While it’s possible to get yellow fever on Maui from a specific species of mosquito, there have been no reported cases of yellow fever in Maui County from 2009 to 2018. So clearly it’s rare, if not virtually non-existent.

The best way to stay safe from mosquitoes and the diseases they carry, as mentioned above, is to wear DEET-based repellent and have adequate clothing coverage.

Does Maui Have Snakes?

Again, yes.

Although you might skim some Google search results and say, “Wait, it says there are no snakes endemic to Hawaii.” And you would be correct. However, snakes have been smuggled in or sometimes naturally find their way over to the islands from other places.

The tiny Brahminy Blind Snake was introduced to the islands within the last century. It’s believed they snuck in via some potted plants. These snakes are very small and pretty much harmless—they’re actually blind. In fact, they look more like worms than snakes.

Another snake sometimes spotted near Maui is the Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake. It’s an aquatic snake that has been known to occasionally find its way to the islands from other tropical seas where it normally lives.

Are they poisonous?

The Brahminy Blind Snake is not venomous. The Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake, however, is.

Although venomous, the Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake usually stays hidden well underwater, so it’s unlikely you’ll see one at all.

Despite being an idyllic vacation spot, Maui is still a tropical island with jungles. That means bugs! While it can seem scary, knowing ahead of time what to expect can help you avoid some of the more dangerous creatures in this list.

Ultimately, common sense is your best friend when it comes to Maui creepy crawlies. Many of them are harmless, and the ones that are dangerous can be avoided.

Don’t let a fear of these critters keep you from enjoying your time on Maui! After all, locals live around them every day and are doing just fine.

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