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Nature & Environment

The Schmidt index - which insect has the most painful sting ?

By T.K. Randall
April 26, 2023 · Comment icon 9 comments

Don't try this at home... Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 William Cho
Dr Justin Schmidt, who died back in February, spent years being stung and bitten by dozens of different insects.
Imagine allowing yourself to be stung by wasps and bitten by ants over and over again - all so that you could find out first-hand what it actually felt like and to determine which of them was the most painful.

This was the work of Dr Justin Schmidt - an American entomologist who famously spent years cataloguing and describing the pain of being stung or bitten by 78 different insects.

His findings - published in 2016 as the Schmidt Sting Pain Index - ranked all 78 of these experiences.
Among the worst were the warrior wasp - the sting of which caused pain similar to the sensation of being "chained in the flow of an active volcano" - and the bullet ant - which he described as "pure, intense, brilliant pain; like walking over a flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail embedded in your heel."

The tarantula hawk wasp was also pretty bad, with a sting described as "blinding, fierce, shockingly electric - a running hair dryer has just been dropped into your bubble bath."

The red fire ant, meanwhile, delivered pain that was "sharp, sudden, mildly alarming - like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch."

Given what the late Dr Schmidt had to go through to put his index together, it's unlikely that anyone else is going to be clambering to write a follow-up volume anytime soon.

Source: Mail Online | Comments (9)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog 1 year ago
Tested the bullet ant on my left foot in central america, was a bit like an hornet sting, but sting for 3-4 hours non stop. Got muscular spasm in my leg for 2 hours. Looked in my crocs before each use after that.
Comment icon #2 Posted by HSlim 1 year ago
According to Coyote Peterson, it's the Executioner Wasp.  But, he also said that he felt like the giant centipede's bite was even worse than that. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by and-then 1 year ago
He sounds like a creative sort.  His deions are hilarious:  https://www.nhm.ac.uk/scroller-schmidt-painscale/#11 I'm thinking you have to be at least a bit of a masochist to do this though  
Comment icon #4 Posted by Splendor Solis 1 year ago
The article ends by saying not too many people will be doing a follow up to Dr. Schmidt's book anytime soon, well, The Kings of Pain have been doing a pretty good follow up on TV and it's pretty entertaining. I think they've been bitten and stung by things that Justin Schmidt was never bitten or stung by.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Bed of chaos 1 year ago
I just watched Coyote's "Stung by Tarantula Hawk Wasp" video. Also explains what the wasp does to (tarantula) prey. Its similar to the movie Alien. Hopefully I'll sleep tonight.
Comment icon #6 Posted by sanchez710 1 year ago
The worst I've had was some sort of tree ant in Barbados. It dropped onto my sunlounger and got me on the back of the leg. Extreme, burning pain that lasted about an hour. Nothing like as bad as the ones on this list though!
Comment icon #7 Posted by quillius 1 year ago
yes did make me laugh, for example he says one felt like being chained inside an active volcano, or the other having a 3inch nail in your foot walking over hot coals............both of which we have all experienced so we are familiar with the pain (comparison) he is describing lol
Comment icon #8 Posted by Edumakated 1 year ago
A few have said the Japanese Giant Hornet is the worst. Executioner Wasp has bad rep along with bullet ant. Coyote Peterson is a bit of a fraud though. He was purposely acting to make the stings look more dramatic. Keep in mind that there is a tribe in Costa Rica that puts dozens of bullet ants in gloves and takes the stings for 10 minutes a right of passage for manhood. So Coyote is flopping around on ground from one sting while 14 year olds wear gloves with bullets ants in them taking several dozen stings in their hands for 10 minutes....
Comment icon #9 Posted by Edumakated 1 year ago
The worst I've experienced is the Carolina Polistes or more commonly known as Red Wasp. Those from the south know those things pack a serious punch.

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