Many Hawaiians Don’t Like Brown Anoles

Last Thursday, the Kokua Line column of the Honolulu Star Advertiser fielded a question on how to get rid of brown anoles. The answer was: no way (the officer at the state Vector Control Branch told the author that if she found out “how to eradicate these lizards, to be sure to call him back and let him know.”). However, the local citizenry disagreed, and in the 23 comments (see below), provided a number of solutions, as well as debate on the wisdom of anole eradication. Several readers also made the claim, echoing that heard in Florida and discussed here, that brown anoles supplant greens (also introduced to Hawaii).

nitestalker2 22 hours ago

get a couple of cats.  all the cats i’ve ever had have taken care of the b52s*, birds, mice and rats, geckos of every stripe, etc.  had one that would bring all her mice/rat kills very proudly to the front door mat and leave them there while purring for applause.  she was a very efficient killer.

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                 *Editor’s Note: according to my friend, Dan Devaney, “b52s” refers to “Hawaii’s unofficial state bird, the B-52 Flying Cockroach.” For more information, go here.

jaymitchell 1 day ago

“Question: Does anyone know how I can get rid of or minimize the population of those ugly, dark brown anole lizards that are running wild and rapidly increasing in population?”

Get chickens or an outdoor cat – feral is best. In fact, if you come to my place, I’ll give you an outdoor cat that will eat practically everything and anything that moves. She’s spayed, too.

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as’why 13 hours ago in reply to jaymitchell

me too. at least a couple of lizards a day per cat.  little dead lizard body parts laying all over the place.

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Publicbraddah 1 day ago

Those brown suckers are fearless.  They’ve wiped out the green chameleon population which I like very much.  These guys will go after the big roaches.  They only fear my dog.

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watdahell 1 day ago

Try brake cleaner with the straw extension. Works good in Palolo.  Make sure you don’t spray your plants or they might die too.

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nuuanumama 1 day ago

I too was distressed when the brownies were increasing and the greenies were getting scarce.  At this point, however, I’m beginning to appreciate how effectively they keep the fly population down in the yard.  I suspect they are also helping to keep insect pests off my plants too.  Are the males the ones that look like little dimetrodons?

They follow me around the garden, running in to snap up bugs and worms exposed while I’m digging and even jumping on my feet to snag those pesky little flies.  I’m sad that the greenies are on the decline, they are so pretty but they are/were an invading species themselves.  I am a strong supporter of preventing the invasion of more foreign species, but I will admit I am delighted to see more of those beautiful green geckos around the house.

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mikethenovice 1 day ago

Start charging to use the rec center also? State is broke already.

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mikethenovice 1 day ago

How much did Vickie pay the officers? Austerity says to start charging for fire, and police services to keep the budget in check.

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wrock 18 hours ago in reply to mikethenovice

What a dumb post.

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mikethenovice 1 day ago

The lizards eat the roaches. Free pest control without side effects.

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BDxxx 1 day ago in reply to mikethenovice

Yup those buggahs also have a field day when the termites start swarming…. So far none made their way into my home, just in the moss rock wall

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willieboy 1 day ago in reply to mikethenovice

yup, i saw one the other nite with half of a B-52 hanging out of its mouth….yeah baby!

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jlake 1 day ago in reply to mikethenovice

There is a small fee, “droppings”.

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mainland_refugee 20 hours ago in reply to jlake

small price to pay for free pest management…

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Kele 1 day ago

Now that they have arrived on the Big Island, I am going to, once again, get some agressive, large hens to roam my property which should work well as it has done for me in 2 previous locations on the Windward side of Hawai’i Island.

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rarnedsoum 1 day ago

Ever since I got my chickens, no more anoles around my yard.
And the eggs are tastier! 😀

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mikethenovice 1 day ago in reply to rarnedsoum

Good idea. Will try this at my office on Bishop Street. I’ll tell my boss that rarnedsoum say its OK.

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pohakuhead 1 day ago

My friend used his airsoft pistol to shoot the lizards, he was getting pretty good at killing them with the pistol.

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mikethenovice 1 day ago in reply to pohakuhead

Waste of bullets.

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manakuke 1 day ago

Visible signs of an aggressive species adapting to an unchallenged ecological niche; hungry critters!

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mikethenovice 1 day ago in reply to manakuke

Sounds like free food for the homeless.

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RetE9USAF 16 hours ago in reply to mikethenovice

I’ll bet they taste just like chicken.   :-)


wrock 18 hours ago in reply to mikethenovice

This guy never stops does he?

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About Jonathan Losos

Professor and Curator of Herpetology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. I've spent my entire professional career studying anoles and have discovered that the more I learn about anoles, the more I realize I don't know.

7 thoughts on “Many Hawaiians Don’t Like Brown Anoles

  1. Truly depressing! It is true that the brown anole is an exotic invasive species, and if it could be removed from Hawaii, it should be done. But in all honesty I highly doubt if it can be done. What I find more alarming is that people are ignorant enough to choose cats over brown anoles! Cats are by far one of the most devastating exotic invasive species introduced by humans – for example, read: If people really care about nature, then they should not have double standards. … As for me, if I have to choose between the brown anoles or cats, I would choose the brown anoles, hands down. They will put pressure on native arthropods (especially spiders and ants), but they will also prey on many pest species in the garden (many of which are also exotic invasives), and at the same time can be prey of some other animals, such as shrikes and some snakes. At least with the anoles in the garden I would still have biodiversity – birds, other lizards, snakes, and small mammals!

  2. end of story: to kill brown anole lizards, spray em with brakleen. you can find the spray @ long’s or any auto parts store. comes with a ‘straw’, just like WD-40 so you can spray/shoot with reasonable accuracy. incidentally, brakleen works better on roaches and centipedes than any bug killer like raid, black flag, etc. I know this to be true because I’ve killed 4 anoles which were hanging out in my patio, not to mention a few B52’s. You can even kill flies with brakleen!! great stuff!

  3. I agree feral cats are not the answer, but the anoles must be stopped! I used to be a happy vegetable gardener with dozens of friendly ladybugs eliminating the need for any insect sprays. Now the anoles have wiped out my ladybugs, and mites, aphids, and whiteflies are wreaking havoc. The brakeleen/WD-40 method seems slow and cruel, so maybe I’ll have to get a chicken or two (even though my wife is terrified of them). Any other suggestions?

  4. the brown lizards are killing all the good bugs. No lady bugs, no butterflies and no moths . these little suckers are not afraid of humans, the look at you as F/U human your next to be eaten. its sad turn on your porch light at night. NO BUGS. We need good bugs. Last week my gf and I spent 3 hours looking for bugs all over the island.. we found 10 stink bugs in one of the old cane fields other then that nada, hell there are very flies anymore. This is not good.

  5. Perhaps you can deter the anoles with mothballs? Lizards are not supposed to like the smell of mothballs. There is also a lizard repellant, that basically has the smell of mothballs and is supposed to keep the brown anoles at bay within about 10 feet or so. I am putting these near my milkweed to keep the anoles away from my baby Monarch caterpillars.
    I am not sure if these brown anoles are intimidating – or eating the eggs of my gentle Hawaiian green geckos though. Very few of the nice geckos around these days..

  6. Those brown anoles are voracious insect hunters and keep the yard free of insects. I miss the green ones that were so common. There are a couple of them that will follow me around the yard and are totally unafraid of me. They are a lot smarter than you think. They seem to recognize different people and will beg for food from people they know will toss them insects, like myself. I don’t view them as pests. Like many animals and pets, they have distinct personalities. There were three of them, a family of sorts, that used to live under the back tool shed., a male and two females. If I went out to the shed, the three of them would come out and beg for food, hoping I’d throw them a live sowbug, worm, or roach. They are very territorial and would occupy only that part of the yard. The other anoles in the yard would just run away or hide, which would be their normal behavior. These three were just like pets.

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