When it comes to pest control, my practice of nonviolence has sometimes veered from my ideals. The lone garden-spider, ant, palmetto bug, cricket or other everyday critter who has gotten into my house, is routinely escorted outside, using the basic “humane bug-removal toolkit” that consists of one of those shiny junk-mail postcards and sometimes a jar.
One time, when my late sweet kitty Starshine (April 2002-March 2017) brought a live mouse into the apartment, I had to act quickly so I rolled her and the mouse up in the scatter rug they were standing on, and carried them both outside.
But, when it comes to potential infestations of cockroaches or termites, and other less “manageable” critters, I have sometimes resorted to poison or a shoe.
At such times, I always feel sadness and remorse, even while I feel relief at getting the situation “under control” before it becomes an actual infestation. So I am always seeking to expand my toolkit for nonviolently dealing with creatures. I searched and found some good articles. Hope you find them helpful!
• How To Get Rid of Pests and Bugs the Buddhist Way (tricycle.org). “In Buddhism there is a long held and integral tradition of caring for animals and all living creatures. They are regarded in Buddhist thought as sentient beings, different than humans in their intellectual ability but no less capable of feeling suffering, fearing death, and craving life. …” This article offers practical tips, plus helpful background reading on how Buddhists practice an attitude of non-violence toward creatures including those we call “pests.”
• Attending to Insects (Joela Brown; voices.uchicago.edu). “In the West, many of us would describe ourselves as animal-lovers. What we tend to mean by that, though, is that we like to engage only with certain animals — animals for which we have some affection, such as domestic dogs and cats, or ‘cute’ animals like koalas and dolphins, or interesting zoo animals like elephants and sloths. We tend to permit non- humans into our lives and spaces only if they please us, entertain us, love us, or at the very least do not frighten or annoy us. …”
• How Nonviolent Religions Handle Bedbugs (medium.com). “Practically speaking, insects and other vermin are harmful. The mosquito may be the world’s most dangerous animal — it kills far and away more humans than any other creature (as evidenced by the current outbreaks of dengue fever and the Zika virus). Flies and roaches can also spread disease. Bedbugs are lately on the rise. With all that in mind, here’s a look at how spiritual-minded folks have approached the vermin problem …”