Many of us have felt the pain of a bee or wasp sting. Fortunately though, most of us will never experience the pain of a bullet ant or a tarantula hawk. But there is a man who has, in fact Justin Schmidt; entomologist has felt all three and approximately 147 more bites and stings. On a number of fieldtrips, the University of Arizona entomologist often found himself digging up living colonies of biting creatures, who were not happy with being disturbed and promptly, bit or sunk their teeth or stingers into him. Dr. Schmidt turned these negative experiences into positive ones and invented the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, ranking some 78 species into a list and subsequently ranking their pain levels on a scale of 1 to 4, from mildly irritating to blinding, brilliant pain.
Below is a sample from Wikipedia:
1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0 Yellow jacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent, Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.0 Honey Bee and European hornet: Like a match head that flips off and burns on your skin.
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has been dropped into your bubble bath.
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3 inch rusty nail in your heel.
What does a Bullet Ant Sting Feel Like
One of the most interesting things about Dr. Schmidt is his un-scientific yet amusing and often colorful descriptions for each level of pain. The bullet ant is ranked at the highest level at 4.0+ and has a powerful sting that can inflict pain for up to 24 hours after the initial sting; fortunately bullet ants are only found in the rainforests of Central America so luckily most of us will never come in contact with them.
Aggressive Stinging Insects
During the course of his studies, Dr. Schmidt discovered two other important findings. Firstly, the more painful a sting, the more aggressive the species tended to be and secondly some insect species release a pheromone with their sting – essentially telling other insects to join in and sting the victim multiply repeatedly.
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