No Need to Stir Up a Hornets’ Nest

By Vyt Karazija

When one’s world gets out of kilter in Bali, instant action is not always called for. Given time, the universe will happily sort things out for you. And it will often do it in a way which is both natural and calls for no effort on your part.

In fact, it may be far preferable to emulate the wonderful philosophy practised by dogs – conserve energy at all times and wait patiently for good things to happen. That is often better than stressing and looking for instant solutions.

And so it came to pass that a hornet problem arose in the villa. I don’t know the species, but they are big, bad-tempered and fast. This lot cunningly built their adobe abode in an alcove in one inaccessible corner of the lounge ceiling.

However, they made a small miscalculation – the shortest flight path from their nest to the rice paddies outside takes most of them through the spinning disk of the ceiling fan. Much like the planes coming into Ngurah Rai airport, these insects are on Visual Flight Rules, so it is left up to each individual to navigate the hazard. This task, and the near-misses involved, so infuriates those who survive the blades that they seek release by immediately attacking any unsuspecting humans in the vicinity.

After several painful stings inflicted on the residents here, I gave up my reluctance to kill living things and sought a way to destroy these nasty impediments to my quiet, pacifist life in Bali. How easily one dispenses with one’s personal philosophies when it is too painful, or inconvenient, to adhere to them! I now better understand the words of my life coach, Mr Marx, who said: “If you don’t like my principles – I have others.” Right on, Groucho.

So began the fruitless search for exterminators, insecticide bombs, sprays, even concussion grenades – in fact anything that would get rid of these unsettling, aggressive little terrors. After a week of searching without finding anything, it was time to take matters into my own hands.

All I had was a can of household insecticide – which turned out to be great for mosquitoes, but without any fast-knockdown capability for hornets. Unfortunately, I didn’t know this at the time. So up the rickety ladder I go, teetering on the very top, pointing the nozzle towards the nest with shaking hands, mashing down the button for a long burst … and the spray nozzle breaks off.

Of course the quarter-second burst of toxic spray was just enough to wake up every hornet in the nest, all of whom came charging out to investigate this unprovoked attack and responded by surrounding my head in a buzzing cloud in preparation for stinging me to death. My strategic retreat consisted of falling off the ladder in a series of ungraceful clanks, swinging like a gibbon in a failed attempt to minimise the damage. Luckily the floor broke my fall, and even though stunned, I was able to take rapid, albeit undignified, refuge in the pool.

By the next day, I had passed into a stage of reluctant acceptance, entering a new phase of uneasy hornet-human co-existence. I was sitting quietly having a beverage while an occasional hornet (one who obviously recognised me) would suddenly dart in towards my face before peeling off, leaving me shaken, but unstung. I swear they were actually giggling at my discomfort.

But then a strange smell began to permeate the air. The industrious rice farmers behind the villa had apparently finished their harvest and were burning the stubble, creating dense clouds of aromatic white smoke which blanketed the villa. I escaped to a place by the beach, one with breathable air, thinking about what else could go wrong. Then, immersed in that most satisfying of feelings, self-pity, I finally made the trek back to the villa, now clear of its thick white pall.

And guess what? The lounge floor was littered with the bodies of hundreds of hornets. Not one had survived the effects of natural Bali rice-growing practices. I was relieved, yet a little saddened too. If I had behaved like a smart dog instead of a human, I would have conserved my energy and just let things flow – and my hornet problem would have solved itself.

I could have preserved my precious illusion that I don’t engage in unnecessary killing, instead of learning that I am just another predator motivated by comfort and convenience. And I wouldn’t have fallen off the damned ladder either.

Vyt Karazija writes a blog at and can be emailed at

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