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Geckos are small lizards that can be found in warm climates around the world, including the Hawaiian Islands. If you’ve spotted these little climbers on walls or trees in Hawaii, you may be wondering what they eat.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Geckos in Hawaii eat small insects and arthropods such as moths, mosquitoes, roaches, ants, termites, and spiders.

Native Hawaiian Geckos

Gold Dust Day Geckos

The gold dust day gecko (Phelsuma laticauda) is a small, colorful lizard that lives in trees and gets its name from the golden speckles on its body. Native to Madagascar, these geckos were introduced to Hawaii, likely as stowaways in shipments of fruit or plants.

Gold dust geckos are common sights in neighborhoods, parks, and gardens across the islands. They can grow up to 8 inches long and have bright green bodies with blue, red, orange, or yellow dots. Gold dust geckos are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day.

They use their large toe pads to expertly climb walls, trees, and other surfaces while hunting small insects like flies, moths, crickets, and cockroaches. These geckos play an important role in controlling pest populations in Hawaii’s ecosystems.

Their golden speckled colors and active daytime behavior also make them popular lizards for visitors to spot!

Mourning Geckos

Mourning geckos (Lepidodactylus lugubris) are tiny nocturnal geckos native to islands across the Pacific, including Hawaii. Only reaching 3-4 inches in length, mourning geckos get their common name from the sad-sounding chirping noises males make at night to attract mates.

These vocalizations sound like soft clicking or croaking noises. Mourning geckos are light brown or tan, often with darker spots and patterns on their backs. They have large eyes with vertical pupils. Their toe pads allow them to effortlessly climb walls and scamper across ceilings while hunting small insects like ants, termites, beetles, and moths.

Mourning geckos play a key role as nocturnal insectivores across Hawaii’s ecosystems. They can be found in forests and woodlands as well as around homes and buildings. Their high-pitched croaking calls are a familiar nighttime sound for residents across the islands!

Hawaiian Stump-toed Geckos

The Hawaiian stump-toed gecko (Gehyra mutilata) is the only gecko species native to the Hawaiian islands. These small, brown geckos have short, blunt toes unlike the long, slender digits of most gecko species. Hawaiian stump-toes reach just 3-4 inches in length.

They have granular skin with lines of small dark spots. Active at night, these geckos hunt insects on rocks, trees, walls, and other surfaces. Their toe pads allow them to effortlessly traverse slick surfaces.

While stump-toed geckos can be found in disturbed areas near human habitation, populations have declined in recent decades due to pressures from invasive species and habitat loss. These geckos still play an important role as native insectivores across Hawaii’s ecosystems.

Fun fact – baby stump-toed geckos lack adhesion pads on their toes and have not yet developed their blunt-shaped feet. Their appearance early in life is more similar to house geckos than the short-toed adults they will eventually become.

Introduced Gecko Species in Hawaii

House Geckos

The house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) is one of the most common introduced gecko species found in Hawaii. Often seen on walls and ceilings, these nocturnal lizards were likely introduced from Southeast Asia as stowaways on cargo ships in the late 1800s.

Today, house geckos have established sizable populations across the Hawaiian islands.

House geckos feed on insects and other small arthropods they find around homes and buildings. A study on the Big Island showed they consume spiders, cockroaches, moths, flies, mosquitoes, and ants. Their ability to climb smooth vertical surfaces gives them access to prey not reachable by many other species.

While house geckos help control pest insects, these lizards have also had negative impacts. They compete with native species for food and habitat, spread pathogens, and have contributed to the decline of endemic birds by eating their hatchlings and eggs.

Controlling house gecko populations remains an important conservation goal in Hawaii.

Tokay Geckos

The tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) is a large, arboreal gecko native to South and Southeast Asia. It has been introduced to Hawaii, likely as escaped or released pets. With unique blue spots and a distinct “tokay” call, these geckos can reach 12-14 inches long making them Hawaii’s largest gecko species.

Tokays are primarily insectivores, feeding on moths, crickets, beetles, and other large arthropods. however, they are versatile predators and have been documented consuming small birds, mammals, and even other lizards.

A paper in Pacific Science found tokay remains in the nests of endangered Hawaiian birds, confirming they are a threat.

The aggressive and adaptable nature of tokay geckos makes them a high-risk invasive species in Hawaii. They dominate food resources, spread diseases, and negatively impact delicate island ecosystems. Wildlife officials warn people not to release tokays and to report any wild sightings.

Controlling their spread is critical to protect Hawaii’s natural heritage.

Geckos as Insect Control

Geckos Feast on Pests

Geckos are voracious insectivores that can help control pest populations in Hawaii. Studies have shown that a single gecko can consume up to 320 insects per day, feasting on troublesome pests like mosquitoes, cockroaches, moths, ants, termites, and flies.

Some of the most common house geckos found in Hawaii include the Indo-Pacific Gecko (Hemidactylus garnotii), the Four-Clawed Gecko (Gehyra mutilata), and the Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris). These nimble lizards infiltrate homes and consume insects that can damage crops and spread disease.

In one remarkable study published in the journal Biotropica, researchers examined the stomach contents of mourning geckos collected from houses in Hawaii. They found that a staggering 96% of the geckos contained ants, while 76% contained cockroaches.

Spiders, moths, mosquitoes, and termites were also well represented as prey items.

By serving as an all-you-can-eat buffet for these household pests, geckos provide excellent natural pest control. Their feasting is estimated to save Hawaiian homeowners and farmers millions per year in avoided property damage and crop losses.

Plus, chemical pesticides are not needed as much thanks to the geckos’ mighty appetites!

Encouraging Gecko Populations

There are several ways Hawaiians can encourage gecko populations around their homes and farms:

  • Install outdoor lighting: Geckos feast on insects swarming around lights at night.
  • Provide hiding spots: Rock piles, woodpiles, and dense foliage give geckos cool and moist shelter during the day.
  • Avoid pesticide use: Pesticides reduce the geckos’ insect prey base.
  • Put up nest boxes: These wooden boxes with grooved interior walls mimic hollow trees where geckos lay eggs.

Boosting gecko numbers pays clear dividends. According to the Clemson Home & Garden Information Center, a single gecko family can consume up to 2,000 insects each season. More geckos equals fewer pests for farmers to worry about.

These humble lizards provide fantastic and chemical-free pest control across Hawaii!

What Geckos Eat in Hawaii

Insects and Arthropods

Geckos in Hawaii enjoy feasting on the islands’ bounty of insects and arthropods. Cockroaches, moths, crickets, spiders, and ants are all on the menu for these hungry lizards. With Hawaii’s tropical climate supporting over 5,000 insect species, there is no shortage of creepy crawlies for geckos to munch on.

Some of the geckos’ favorite insect snacks in Hawaii include moths, stinkbugs, termites, and centipedes. Moths are plentiful, providing geckos with a nice juicy meal. Stinkbugs emit a foul odor when threatened, but that doesn’t deter hungry geckos.

Termites nest in dead trees and plants, giving geckos easy access to swarms of the wood-eating insects. And muscular centipedes may seem intimidating, but their multiple legs make for convenient gecko handling.

Nectar and Fruit

When not gobbling up insects, Hawaiian geckos supplement their diets with sugary nectar and tropical fruits. Nectar from colorful heliconia and ginger flowers gives them a quick energy boost. Geckos also enjoy the fruits from banana, mango, guava, and papaya plants.

The geckos’ agility allows them to scamper up trees and vines to reach the sweetest nibbles.

Some botanical buffets require daring acrobatic feats. Brave geckos scale tall palm trees to sip coconut water straight from the source. And the nectar of puakenikeni flowers blooming high on rocky cliffs calls for seasoned climbing skills.

But the challenge is worth it for a mouthful of nature’s candy. Thanks to an abundance of flowers and fruits, Hawaii’s geckos can satisfy their sweet tooth along with their appetite for insects and arthropods.

Gecko Diet by Species

Gold Dust Day Geckos

The gold dust day gecko (Phelsuma laticauda) is a small lizard native to Madagascar. In Hawaii, where it has been introduced, it enjoys feeding on insects and nectar. Its favorites include small spiders, moths, fruit flies, and the nectar from flowers like hibiscus and orchids.

With a body length under 7 inches, gold dust geckos have tiny appetites—an adult will eat 3-4 small insects or a couple drops of nectar per day.

Mourning Geckos

Mourning geckos (Lepidodactylus lugubris) are native to islands across the Pacific and Indian Oceans. These nocturnal geckos love to munch on tiny insects like termites, small cockroaches, ants, and the occasional fruit fly.

Unlike day geckos, mourning geckos don’t typically eat plant nectar or fruit. Their small size, under 5 inches long, means they only need to catch a few tiny insects each night to stay satisfied.

House Geckos

The house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) is an invasive species that likely hitched a ride to Hawaii on cargo ships. Opportunistic eaters, house geckos feast on spiders, roaches, moths, mosquitoes, and other household pests.

They occasionally sample fruits like papaya or mango if they come across them. With exceptional climbing skills allowing them to traverse walls and ceilings, house geckos have their pick of hard-to-reach bugs inside people’s homes. Their maximum length is around 8 inches.

Tokay Geckos

The tokay gecko (Gekko gecko), another invasive species in Hawaii, is the largest gecko found on the islands. Reaching up to 15 inches in length, tokays have big appetites. They consume a wide variety of insects like crickets, grasshoppers, beetles, and moths.

Unlike smaller geckos, tokays also eat small lizards and frogs if they can catch them! Tokays also occasionally sample ripe papaya and mango. Their loud “tokay” mating calls are a dead giveaway that these giant geckos are hunting around yards and homes at night.


In summary, the geckos found in Hawaii primarily feast on small insects and arthropods that are abundant on the islands. Native species such as mourning geckos and gold dust day geckos, as well as introduced house geckos and Tokay geckos, all help control pest populations while enjoying the climates and habitats Hawaii has to offer.

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