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How Painful is That Sting? The Schmidt Pain Index

Updated November 6, 2017 23k views10 items
Think bug-scientists are timid wimps with butterfly nets and high-pants? Not Justin O. Schmidt. Back in 1984 he wanted to rank the painfulness of insect stings, specifically those of the Hymenoptera Order. He let himself (goaded them) be stung by each of the 10 adorable beauties on this list and then wrote brilliant mini-observations about the sensation -- presumably after he recovered. Schmidt has been stung (to date) by over 150 different species, so who better to rank the pain? 

 Images found on Flikr and Wikipedia, credited where asked.

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  • 1

    Bullet Ant

    4.0+
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal witha 3-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel.
  • 2

    Tarantula Hawk

    4.0
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has been dropped in your bubble bath.
  • 3

    Red Harvester Ant

    3.0
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
  • 4

    Paper Wasp

    3.0
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
  • 5

    European Hornet / Honey Bee

    2.0
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Like a matchhead that flips off and burns your skin.
  • 6

    Yellowjacket

    2.0
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
  • 7

    Bald-faced hornet

    2.0
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
  • 8

    Bullhorn Acacia Ant

    1.8
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.

    Photo by: Ryan Somma
  • 9

    1.2
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.
  • 10

    Sweat Bee

    1.0
    SCHMIDT INDEX

    Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm,