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Nature & Environment

Bullet ant has world's most painful sting

By T.K. Randall
March 15, 2015 · Comment icon 21 comments



The bullet ant is native to South and Central America. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Erin Mills
The South American insect measures 2.5cm long and delivers an agonizing bite that hurts for up to a day.
Entomologist Dr Justin Schmidt is no stranger to the pain that can be inflicted by insects having been stung and bitten over 1,000 times over the years in his efforts to catalogue the relative discomfort that can be dished out by each individual species.

Each bite or sting is assigned a pain level from one to four with one being the least uncomfortable and four being so bad that the pain is almost unimaginable. The bullet ant, which has the world's most painful sting, fits neatly in to the latter category.

Describing the ant's sting as "pure, intense, brilliant pain," Dr Schmidt likened the experience to "walking over flaming charcoal with a three inch nail embedded in your heel."
All level four stings and bites are in fact described as "pain so immediate and intense that it shuts down all illusions of life as normal. Imagine sticking a finger in a 240 volt electrical socket."

The tarantula hawk wasp, which feeds on huge spiders, can also dish out pain of a similar intensity.

Source: BBC | Comments (21)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #12 Posted by DaiGer 8 years ago
are those the same ants that they use in initiation and for the test of manhood in a tribe deep in the jungles?
Comment icon #13 Posted by Foil Hat Ninja 8 years ago
Am I the only one who has picked up on the fact that this guy goes around getting intentionally stung by bugs for a living? Of what possible value could this be to science? I think I'll start going around to various offices to see which stapler hurts the worst when you accidentally pound one into your finger. That should produce invaluable information for the office supply industry.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Atuke 8 years ago
All pale in comparison to a Megalodon bite.. ROTFLMFAO!!!
Comment icon #15 Posted by Atuke 8 years ago
Before I die I want to be bitten by one of these. And if that doesn't put a nail in my coffin I want to be eaten alive by a living dinosaur...a massive Great White shark. They are a great example of how badass Mother Nature is. I don't want to die slowly from cancer or a random heart attack. I want to go out in style
Comment icon #16 Posted by Nnicolette 8 years ago
How is this news i already knew that...
Comment icon #17 Posted by Aten 8 years ago
I think they could have at least told us an analysis of the chemicals that make up the sting.
Comment icon #18 Posted by DefenceMinisterMishkin 8 years ago
Before I die I want to be bitten by one of these. And if that doesn't put a nail in my coffin I want to be eaten alive by a living dinosaur...a massive Great White shark. They are a great example of how badass Mother Nature is. I don't want to die slowly from cancer or a random heart attack. I want to go out in style Shark attack has to be one of the worst ways you can go! Well being eaten by anything would suck hard!
Comment icon #19 Posted by Atuke 8 years ago
Shark attack has to be one of the worst ways you can go! Well being eaten by anything would suck hard! Yes I agree but we are all going down sometime. And I have the upmost respect for Mother Nature that I wouldn't mind going out this way. Only after a long fulfilled life of course. Or a quick lightning strike. I want the planet to take me out quickly. No suffering allowed in my world.
Comment icon #20 Posted by KariW 8 years ago
In the Southwest, we have what are called Tarantula Hawks, (Huge Black wasps with Bright red wings) which supposedly have one of the most painful stings of any insect. Thank goodness I can't verify how painful the stings are, because I haven't been stung by one yet. Unfortunately, our new home seems to be a magnet for the critters as they keep getting inside somehow!
Comment icon #21 Posted by HarryP 8 years ago
I've endured fire ants, wasp stings, yellow jacket stings, etc, but a bumble bee gave me a near fatal sting that made me swell from head to foot. I was mowing grass and it got me right on the neck. In the Catskills where we go for vacation, I have witnessed huge hornets far bigger than a bumble bee . In fact, over twice the size. These guys get right in your face and follow you around. This was not a Cicada killer, it looked just like a bald faced hornet only twice the size.These scary boys have a loud deep sound as they fly . I thought it might be a killer bee queen due to it's aggressive nat... [More]


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