How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby a_human_being » Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:33 pm

I did it again. I saw a big silverfish and a kind of bug in the bathroom, and killed them. I don't want to do it again. I just don't know what to do with them. Is it realistic to try to scoop every single one you see up and put in different jars/containers and then let them out somewhere some day a week? I don't even know where to let them out if so. If I take them to some nature area and let them out, will silverfish even make it there? And if I know that they won't survive where I put them out, how is that really any better than killing them directly? I guess the reasoning is that the future is uncertain, and by letting them out, be it in a setting that they might not survive in, then they at least have more chances than if I kill them, which is flat zero. Fair enough.

I would like to find some way to deal with this that would prevent me from ever again feeling like I "have to" kill an insect just because I'm reasoning like: 1) If I don't then they will just become more and more, and that means that if I kill one now then I may not have to kill the others, so I think I am reasoning like I am saving future lives by killing them now 2) I have a responsibility to keep my apartment clean from these "guests" 3) my fiancee is disgusted by them.

I know preventive measures are the best thing to solve this, but I'm trying the best I can to keep the place clean, and the inquiry of this post is mainly about how to deal with these guests once they are there and you have to do something.

Maybe I don't really have an excuse, maybe the only "good enough" thing to do is to really take each individual insect and put into containers as I suggested earlier, and then maybe once a week go out and "set them free" someplace in nature.

I don't feel good about having killed them at all.
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:47 pm

a_human_being wrote:I did it again. I saw a big silverfish and a kind of bug in the bathroom, and killed them. I don't want to do it again. I just don't know what to do with them. Is it realistic to try to scoop every single one you see up and put in different jars/containers and then let them out somewhere some day a week? I don't even know where to let them out if so. If I take them to some nature area and let them out, will silverfish even make it there? And if I know that they won't survive where I put them out, how is that really any better than killing them directly? I guess the reasoning is that the future is uncertain, and by letting them out, be it in a setting that they might not survive in, then they at least have more chances than if I kill them, which is flat zero. Fair enough.

I would like to find some way to deal with this that would prevent me from ever again feeling like I "have to" kill an insect just because I'm reasoning like: 1) If I don't then they will just become more and more, and that means that if I kill one now then I may not have to kill the others, so I think I am reasoning like I am saving future lives by killing them now 2) I have a responsibility to keep my apartment clean from these "guests" 3) my fiancee is disgusted by them.

I know preventive measures are the best thing to solve this, but I'm trying the best I can to keep the place clean, and the inquiry of this post is mainly about how to deal with these guests once they are there and you have to do something.

Maybe I don't really have an excuse, maybe the only "good enough" thing to do is to really take each individual insect and put into containers as I suggested earlier, and then maybe once a week go out and "set them free" someplace in nature.

I don't feel good about having killed them at all.

Have you tried developing equipoise, and bring mindfulness more into daily activities or practicing friendliness to all beings?

if you take them out right away you will not be harming them as much as keeping them away from food in a container though!
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby santa100 » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:06 pm

You could keep ready by your side a see-through plastic container (like those see-through plastic lunch boxes or the CD-ROM container cap) and a strong piece of paper. Simply place the plastic box on top of the insect, slide the piece of paper at the bottom, and the insect is safely isolated. Thanks them for giving you a chance to stand up, get outdoor and breathe some fresh air. Beside, it's all part of the training to observe the five precepts and to develop the brahmaviharas of lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Last but not least, encourage your fiancee to do the same thing too. Good luck..
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby Sam Vara » Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:58 pm

I would like to give santa100's technique my personal endorsement. It works well for spiders, though swap to an opaque cup if you are arachnophobic. For smaller delicate creatures, you might want to try a "vacuum" spider or bug catcher. I've never used one, but they claim not to harm the creature. Just Google it and you will get the idea.
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:59 pm

Sam Vega wrote:I would like to give santa100's technique my personal endorsement. It works well for spiders, though swap to an opaque cup if you are arachnophobic. For smaller delicate creatures, you might want to try a "vacuum" spider or bug catcher. I've never used one, but they claim not to harm the creature. Just Google it and you will get the idea.


:thumbsup: Agreed.

Although, one thing which comes to mind is that the idea "it's in my house" is at the root of aversion here (or some manner of inappropriate attention to the sign of the repulsive). Perhaps the bug can simply abide there, providing food for the house spiders but otherwise being endured?

MN 2 wrote:And what are the asavas to be abandoned by tolerating? There is the case where a monk, reflecting appropriately, endures. He tolerates cold, heat, hunger, & thirst; the touch of flies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, & reptiles; ill-spoken, unwelcome words & bodily feelings that, when they arise, are painful, racking, sharp, piercing, disagreeable, displeasing, & menacing to life. The asavas, vexation, or fever that would arise if he were not to tolerate these things do not arise for him when he tolerates them. These are called the asavas to be abandoned by tolerating.


The assumption that "I must take action" is an interesting one to note, in connection with house insects.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby marc108 » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:06 pm

just catch it and throw it outside. it's just a bug... it's not going to hurt you, or your fiance, or destroy your home. trust me for every 1 bug you see there are 100 hiding... the idea of a sterile house is a farce. dont worry about whether it will live or die in its outside environment, taking care of the bug isn't your responsibility... your responsibility is to remove it from your dwelling and release it without harming it or putting it into direct harm.

i have caught so many spiders, bees, wasps, and random bugs with just a glass and a piece of paper. it's very simple to do... bugs arent smart... you should have no problem catching them without being bitten or stung if you put some effort into it.

killing rather the catching & releasing beings whose presence we find to be inconvenient is nothing more the laziness and brutality.
Last edited by marc108 on Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby tiltbillings » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:07 pm

santa100 wrote:You could keep ready by your side a see-through plastic container (like those see-through plastic lunch boxes or the CD-ROM container cap) and a strong piece of paper. Simply place the plastic box on top of the insect, slide the piece of paper at the bottom, and the insect is safely isolated. Thanks them for giving you a chance to stand up, get outdoor and breathe some fresh air. Beside, it's all part of the training to observe the five precepts and to develop the brahmaviharas of lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Last but not least, encourage your fiancee to do the same thing too. Good luck..
Bristletails -- firebrats and silverfish -- are way too soft bodied for that to work well. Google "firebrats and silverfish" to learn about these little buggers and how you can deal with them.


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Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby daverupa » Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:13 pm

Also, do not neglect housecleaning.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby a_human_being » Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:08 pm

Thank you everyone for your replies.

You are right, there is no excuse for my behavior. I will do my best to in the future refrain from killing these bugs and instead put them in a container and take them outside or simply let them be.

I feel bad for having killed them but such is the law of karma and it is as it should be. All I can do is to try to be better in the future.

Thanks all for helping me. Much appreciated.
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby danieLion » Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:56 pm

I've a similar problem as do a lot of residents here.

ODOROUS ANTS. I can't think of anything more unpleasant than the taste of a mouthful of ants with my first bite of cereal. They taste way worse than they smell, and they smell like a meth lab.

We've learned to store food and houseclean (which my chronic pain limits) to prevent them from completely taking over but they still crawl on me when I'm meditating and sleeping!

I'll be honest. I HATE them. I know it's defilement, but when I hear Thanissaro say stuff like, "There are more skillful ways of dealing with ants," it just pisses me off. I think, "YOU haven't dealt with THESE ants." Sometimes, I feel sorry for them, but I can't seem to generate any metta for the little shits.

The only strategy I've come up with so far is to just kill as few of them as possible.

How strict was the Buddha about intentionally killing ants? I've heard many monasteries in Asia frequently exterminate. Is this true?

Best,
Daniel
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby santa100 » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:57 am

This site might have some useful info..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_repellent_plants
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:01 am

a_human_being wrote:Thank you everyone for your replies.

You are right, there is no excuse for my behavior. I will do my best to in the future refrain from killing these bugs and instead put them in a container and take them outside or simply let them be.

I feel bad for having killed them but such is the law of karma and it is as it should be. All I can do is to try to be better in the future.

Thanks all for helping me. Much appreciated.
Just to be clear, if you do not inadvertently kill or damage them by trying to capture them, given their remarkably soft bodies, putting them outside is likely a death sentence.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby Ben » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:43 am

Hi Dan,

danieLion wrote:I've a similar problem as do a lot of residents here.

ODOROUS ANTS. I can't think of anything more unpleasant than the taste of a mouthful of ants with my first bite of cereal. They taste way worse than they smell, and they smell like a meth lab.

We've learned to store food and houseclean (which my chronic pain limits) to prevent them from completely taking over but they still crawl on me when I'm meditating and sleeping!

I'll be honest. I HATE them. I know it's defilement, but when I hear Thanissaro say stuff like, "There are more skillful ways of dealing with ants," it just pisses me off. I think, "YOU haven't dealt with THESE ants." Sometimes, I feel sorry for them, but I can't seem to generate any metta for the little shits.

The only strategy I've come up with so far is to just kill as few of them as possible.

I'm sorry to hear of your troubles with the ants. I have no idea what they are like though I have pests-a-plenty here in Trouwenna. I was in a similar situation a few years ago when my family and I lived in a rental property. Behind the refrigerator cavity was a massive ant nest. As fastidious as we were in keeping the kitchen clean, they were always there. I also tried setting up barriers of ground turmeric lines strategically set up around the kitchen but it was a real hassle in a busy household.

How strict was the Buddha about intentionally killing ants?

Pretty strict, I reckon (from my readings).

I've heard many monasteries in Asia frequently exterminate. Is this true?

I'm not sure about this. Perhaps it happens from time to time when a lay supporter or member of the monastery management committee hears about an infestation and takes it upon him or herself to eradicate the problem.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby hermitwin » Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:56 am

insects are not pests. they have a right to live too.
they perform an important function in the ecology.
we need to reeducate ourselves to think of insects as fellow travellers.
i used to kill ants in my house.
now, i just let them be.
my house has not turned into a giant ant nest.
nor are there ants swarming all over my entire house.
i just keep my house clean, without food scraps, the ants just venture elsewhere in search of food.
one last thought, there will always be insects around us no matter
how hard we try to destroy them. many insects can survive a nuclear
holocaust better than humans.
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby tiltbillings » Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:08 am

hermitwin wrote:insects are not pests. they have a right to live too.
they perform an important function in the ecology.
we need to reeducate ourselves to think of insects as fellow travellers.
i used to kill ants in my house.
now, i just let them be.
my house has not turned into a giant ant nest.
nor are there ants swarming all over my entire house.
i just keep my house clean, without food scraps, the ants just venture elsewhere in search of food.
one last thought, there will always be insects around us no matter
how hard we try to destroy them. many insects can survive a nuclear
holocaust better than humans.
And what about termites who have setup houskeeping in your home?
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby Ben » Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:16 pm

hermitwin wrote:insects are not pests.

Tell that to someone who has head lice.
"One cannot step twice into the same river, nor can one grasp any mortal substance in a stable condition, but it scatters and again gathers; it forms and dissolves, and approaches and departs."

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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby a_human_being » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:40 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
a_human_being wrote:Thank you everyone for your replies.

You are right, there is no excuse for my behavior. I will do my best to in the future refrain from killing these bugs and instead put them in a container and take them outside or simply let them be.

I feel bad for having killed them but such is the law of karma and it is as it should be. All I can do is to try to be better in the future.

Thanks all for helping me. Much appreciated.
Just to be clear, if you do not inadvertently kill or damage them by trying to capture them, given their remarkably soft bodies, putting them outside is likely a death sentence.


*sigh*

I guess I will have to do some research about silverfish and then try to find out what place in a nature area would give them "best possible conditions", because I couldn't go release them on the street, they'd just go "visit" some other apartment - I'd be making it "someone else's problem", and they'd likely just get killed there. Releasing them in nature, although they probably won't make it, must be better than at least killing them? If I can't just sit and watch them multiply, what else can I do than to keep the place as clean as I can and take out and release them someplace?
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby daverupa » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:46 pm

a_human_being wrote:If I can't just sit and watch them multiply, what else can I do than to keep the place as clean as I can and take out and release them someplace?


What is it, after these actions are taken, that yet gives rise to dissatisfaction?
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby a_human_being » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:53 pm

http://www.ento.csiro.au/education/insects/thysanura.html:
Silverfish occur in a wide variety of habitats both natural and manmade. Native species are generally found living under the bark of trees, under rocks, in rotten logs and among leaf litter. Some species have been found to live exclusively in caves while others have been discovered inhabiting the nests of ants and termites.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silverfish:
They inhabit moist areas, requiring a relative humidity between 75% and 95%.


http://www.greenshieldpestcontrol.com/content/silverfish:
Natural habitat of silverfish is hidden in leaf litter, under rocks and logs and in other natural crevices.


So it seems that I can release them in nature near a humid place with rocks, rotten logs and moist leafs.
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Re: How to deal with "pest"/insects in your home?

Postby a_human_being » Wed Aug 01, 2012 2:55 pm

daverupa wrote:
a_human_being wrote:If I can't just sit and watch them multiply, what else can I do than to keep the place as clean as I can and take out and release them someplace?


What is it, after these actions are taken, that yet gives rise to dissatisfaction?


tiltbillings wrote "Just to be clear, if you do not inadvertently kill or damage them by trying to capture them, given their remarkably soft bodies, putting them outside is likely a death sentence."
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