GECKO Friend or Foe?

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GECKO Friend or Foe?

By Lee S. Yudin, Ph.D.

Pacific Daily News

April 25, 1998


On Guam, this reptilian house guest is either referred to by its Chamorro name “guali’ek” or by its Latinized name “gecko.” In Latin, the word “gecko” means chirping lizard. As residents of Guam we often hear the chirping sounds of these lizards in feverish pursuit of their mate or making sure that their territory is well protected from intruders.

            Over the years, I have found it quite amusing that people are either terrified of this miniature dinosaur-like creature or that they find this lizard an amusing form of evening entertainment. For those who are terrified of geckos it will be of little value, believe me, to try to convince them otherwise. For them to witness a gecko climbing upside down o the ceiling wall is enough to induce the most terrified into utter hysterics.

            Those of you who have a little more faith in mother nature may view these little creatures with utmost respect. They do what they do best – consume a large number of insect pests like moths, termites, cockroaches, ants, and other small arthropods – and are environmentally friendly.

            In fact, the gecko is a very good friend to have living outside one’s home as a natural and helpful predator. The house gecko is carnivorous (a true meat eater) and its meat-loving characteristics is responsible for the reduction of moths, termites, and cockroaches form becoming even a greater nuisance around your residence.

            Of course there is a certain liability to living with geckos. Most people can tolerate their chirping noises but have great difficulty dealing with copious droppings of the gecko. If the gecko finds an entrance inside your home you can bet your bottom dollar that they will leave their fecal droppings in places that might make even the worst housekeeper scream. Yes the gecko, unlike the cat or dog, can not be trained to go outside to relieve themselves.

            So if you don’t want to clean up their droppings off the wall and inside cabinets, drawers, and other sacred areas of your homes, you are going to have to tighten up screens, doors and windows, and patch up cracks and crevices, especially around water and electric pipes, so these intrusive reptiles do not find their way into your home.

            If you are an individual who is not afraid of geckos, you can pick them up gently and place them outside yourself. Grabbing geckos by their tail will only make matters worse. Geckos have the ability to detach their tails, leaving you with only a small piece of their anatomy while the rest of them gets away. This protective measure allows the gecko to escape from their enemies. The tail, by the way will grow back. If you must kill geckos, use sticky cockroach or rodent traps rather than insecticides.

            Geckos are attracted to lights where night flying insects gather. Most homes on Guam keep outside lights on during the night hours. An energized light bulb will attract numerous moths and the mea-eating gecko will be there filling its belly to its full capacity.

            The problem with geckos feeding at night on the outside walls of your house is that during the day, they will seek dark places to rest or mate or for the female to lay her eggs. If screens, windows, or doors are not tightly sealed, they can easily move form the outside to the inside of your house. One possible solution, in trying to reduce the numbers of geckos from gathering underneath your outside lights, is to use bug lights. Bug lights, available at hardware stores, are not 100% effective but they use a different spectrum of light that insects are not as attracted to as they are with most standard light bulbs.

            For those pesky insects that reside outside your house, the guali’ek just might be the best friend you ever hope to have – they are inexpensive, they do not need any attention, and at times even quite musical. However, most of you will probably sleep better at night knowing that these little predatory lizards are doing their greatest benefit outside and not inside your home.