Schmidt has been stung by 150 different species and these are his top 5. Here, the term \"sweat bees\" refers to several small bees in the family Halictidae, so-called because they're attracted to human perspiration. Kevin Follow Christopher Wanjek @wanjek for daily tweets on health and science with a humorous edge. The bullet ant's legendary sting rates as a 4.0+ on the Schmidt sting pain index, which compares the pain of various insect stings. The fire ant sting is a 1; the bullet ant sting is a 4. The index is a spectrum that ranges from 0 to 4. The Schmidt Pain Index ranks insect stings on a scale of 0 to 4 — 0 being no pain at all and 4 being absolutely excruciating. The index runs from “1” (mild) to “4” (severe). Entomologist Justin Schmidt recorded his own experience of venomous stings, to rate and describe the pain caused by the venom of insects. The scale is clearly subjective since it is the interpretation of a single man’s pain, but it provides insight by an expert to the quality and intensity of insect stings. Comprising mostly stories from the author's life, Schmidt's book is an evolution lesson in the guise of humorous misadventures among ornery critters with names like the cow killer and warrior wasp. To provide you with an example of the types of ratings and descriptions you will find on the Schmidt sting pain index, consider the following insects. At 0, the insect is completely ineffective at causing pain to humans. Contact The gas lamp in the old church explodes in your face when you light it.” 9. The question that Schmidt has asked for more than 30 years as a researcher, and the one he poses in his book, is why? The Schmidt Pain Index ranks insect stings on a scale of 0 to 4 — 0 being no pain at all and 4 being blindingly excruciating. [In Images: The Insect Family Tree]. Bullet Ant: 4.0+ The insect pain index includes a scale with more than 70 stings.

He described the 1-point pain of the mud dauber as "sharp with a flare of heat; jalapeno cheese when you were expecting Havarti." The bugs are the way they are because of how we react to them.". Not Justin O. Schmidt.

Many products featured on this site were editorially chosen. Copyright © 2020 Popular Science. In addition to a numerical ranking of the agony of each of the eighty-three stings he’s sampled so far, Schmidt describes them in prose worthy of a professional wine critic: "Looks deceive. Do camels really have water in their humps. Insects are never happy when one prods in their nest, so they tend to sting. Though they rank low on the index, the honey bee and sweat bee are shown on the below graphic for comparison. Shipping Info

With more serious stings, medical providers could use the pain index to understand the nature and expected duration of the pain, in order to better treat you.

On the pain index scale, it ranks at 2.5.

He decided to turn that agony into something useful.

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The honey bee ranks at 2 on the scale, while the most painful sting recorded is by the South American bullet ant, which ranks at 4. And for the most part, he's been right about the mildness of their stings, he said. A Bonnier Corporation Company. Wanjek is the author of "Food at Work" and "Bad Medicine." The sting sends a powerful and memorable message to predators, Schmidt said. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. None are bigger than an inch or two long (2.54 to 5.08 centimeters), but boy, do some of them pack a punch in their stings.

Returns & Exchanges He's no masochist — for most of the stings he recorded, Schmidt did not provoke the insect into stinging him. He decided to scientifically categorize his experiences beginning in the mid-1980s. Of course, if anyone is equipped to create a scale such as this, it is a man who has been stung hundreds of times.

So in 1983 he developed the Schmidt Sting Pain Index to measure the painfulness of different stingers. Check out our Framed Asian Hornet.


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Over countless millennia, this appendage developed into a stinger that can deliver venom as well as eggs.


No, seriously — no matter what type of insect stung you, Schmidt surely has been stung by it, too, and has documented that pain. April 8, 2016. The Schmidt sting pain index. © Schmidt's pain index grew largely out of his desire to educate himself about the venom pain range and to develop his explanation. Back in 1984 he wanted to rank the painfulness of insect stings, specifically those of the Hymenoptera Order. Now, he recounts his most painful memories in a book published this month called "The Sting of the Wild" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). Enter Schmidt's explanation. As if a tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm” — makes it sound more like a salsa you might need to go easy on. Schmidt placed the honeybee sting in the middle of the index, at 2.0, as a reference, because it's a sting many people have experienced. Popular Science may receive financial compensation for products purchased through this site. Sitemap,, Jewel Beetles: Natural History and Interesting Facts, Introduction to Insect Taxonomic Classification, The ‘Cute’ Ones – our love of ladybugs and rolly-pollys, Wealthy Homes Have Greater Diversity of Indoor Insects. "The chicken that I am, I try not to get myself stung intentionally," he said. At 0, the insect is completely ineffective at causing pain to humans. Schmidt said this is because wasps don't have as much to protect as bees; few predators are attracted to these insects' meager bodies or tasteless homes. Receive mail from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors? The potent venom delivered by a bee sting, which can be deadly to even a large animal if enough doses are given, has evolved to protect the hive, Schmidt argued. The Schmidt Pain Index Dr. Justin Schmidt, a researcher who specializes in the pain-generating qualities of insect stings, has published a ranking of the most painful stings the world. But mostly it's an intimidation game on their part more so than a heavy-artillery game.
Can you guess the tiny objects in these zoomed-in photos? Visit our corporate site. Paper Wasp “Caustic and burning. Well, Justin Schmidt feels your pain. Schmidt Pain Index Each is given a rating of between 1 and 4 to represent stings that range from irritating to excruciating. Schmidt is rather colorful and thorough in his sting descriptions, too.

These descriptions are very specific and often humorous, such as the one for the red harvester ant, which is “bold and unrelenting. Receive news and offers from our other brands? Been stung by a bug? They rarely sting, but when they do, the results are pretty puny by Schmidt’s standards. Entomologist (bug scientist) Dr Justin Schmidt from Arizona, USA, was curious to discover more about the effects of insect stings.
In fact, his description of the sting — \"light, ephemeral, almost fruity. If you were stung by a fire ant and it feels more painful than a honeybee sting, you may be having an adverse reaction to the sting. The Matabele ant has a sting at the 1.5-point level, comparable to a "child's arrow [that] misses its target and finds its home in your calf."

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In doing that work, Schmidt has been stung — accidentally or purposely, in the name of science — more than a thousand times by nearly 100 different kinds of stinging insects. Most solitary wasps have stings far more mild than that of the honeybee.

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