The question of how to live and work with insects and pests comes up quite often here. We have all taken a vow not to kill and the squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits know that we are suckers and will drink hot chocolate out of your mug if you let them (I am not joking, this really happened). I’ve been trapping mice and voles and releasing them ‘3 streams’ over and we even cut open a wall to save a mouse who had gotten trapped there (trapped on top of about 2 inches of previously dead and now decomposing mice…..ick.). My particular challenge this year has been wasps. About a month ago, I was stung in the neck while working on a window that had deteriorated on one of the retreat cabins. I knew there was a nest inside the wall but couldn’t get to it and instead of spraying them with poison, I decided to just keep working and block it in.
I realize this facilitates their death so before I did so, I had a chat with the wasps and gave them notice of my intention to block access to the queen. My ‘wasp’ is apparently as good as their English or they were just holding their ground because they didn’t find a new home. They did, however, realize what I was up to and stung me. No big deal. I finished the window, blocked them in, and left it for two days before going back. And yes, this is the protocol. We have this human life to practice and study the Dharma and are obliged do our best to enable that. Retreatants getting stung by wasps prevents practice, as does a giant nest in the propane tank that would prevent the propane guy from refilling it and thus putting a monkey wrench in our food cooking. So, set the intention, inform the colony you will be killing, wish them rebirth into the human realm so that they may discover the path to enlightenment, spray with poison or another ‘least painful/quickest’ method.
Now, I knew there were two big hives inside the walls right out back of the kitchen and even though Megan, one of the cooks, got stung, they didn’t want them killed as they weren’t disturbing anything.
As you can see, the reaction was pretty striking. I had 3 awesome volunteers though and had to get to work with them so after I took this photo, I went to go and meet them and was immediately stopped by one of the nuns, told to sit down, that I had to go to the clinic etc. etc. As an American with subpar health insurance and after my experience with the neck sting, I politely said no and that I was fine and went to work. Half an hour later, I look like a villain from the Dick Tracy comic series and am talking like the Godfather, my palms and the soles of my feet are itchy beyond belief and there is no way I am working (another nun took over the volunteers for me).
Here is how I looked 3 hours after the sting after taking 4 Benadryl, some vinegar and an hour and a half nap. And this is a VAST improvement, I looked like they put a fat mask on me and that my body should have weighed about 350 pounds. Everything worked out alright, I went to work in the afternoon with the volunteers and then we cut out early and went to the beach so I could recuperate.
So last evening, I had a conversation with the wasps, I gave them an offer they couldn’t refuse and they did anyway. Rest assured that I genuinely wished them all a human rebirth before I generously doused their hive with poison.