Buddhist monks bound by faith in nonviolence are grappling with how to rid a Malaysian temple of a severe ant infestation without killing the insects, a temple devotee said Monday.
Stinging red ants have plagued the Hong Hock See Temple in northern Penang state for a year, causing one worshipper to be bitten so badly last month that he had to receive hospital treatment, said Elma Lin, a temple volunteer worker, the AP reports.
A temple disciple tried using a vacuum cleaner to gather up the ants before freeing them in a nearby forest, but the method failed to purge the insects, Lin said.
"We haven't found a solution so far," Lin said. "Nothing has worked."
The temple's chief monk, Boon Keng, was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper the monks had to "respect other living things" in the temple.
"When an ant drops on you, you must not flick it away or blow on it," he told the newspaper. "If you do, it will bite to hold on. You just have to shake it off."
The newspaper published a photograph of Boon Keng standing beside a sign at the temple that read, "Beware poisonous ants. Do not sit under the tree."
The decades-old temple has more than 10 monks living there and hundreds of devotees, Lin said.