As an entomologist, Justin Schmidt has dedicated his life and scientific mind to the study of insects. Most entomologists do important things like classify insects, study their life cycles, behavior, physiology, ecology, and population dynamic. Dr. Schmidt has developed the Schmidt Pain Index to classify the amount of pain caused by the sting or bite of an insect. This is to include a scale from 1-4, as well as duration of pain and an explanation of what it actually feels like.
The language used by Justin Schmidt in describing the sting is almost poetic. He is elegant and articulate, which is extremely unusual for a person going through varying levels of, sometimes excruciating, pain.
Dr. Justin Schmidt calmly poses with a Tarantula Hawk crawling on his face. Most people in their right mind would do anything in their power to avoid a situation like having this extremely powerful insect anywhere near them.
On a scale of 1-4, this exciting insect rates a 4 in the amount of excruciating pain it can inflict.
The Sweat Bee comes in low on the index at a 1 out of 4. Dr. Schmidt labels the Sweat Bee sting as, “Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.”
Just a little higher on the index at a 1.2 is the Fire Ant. While most of us have experienced this annoyance, keep in mind, the is at the least painful end of the scale. “Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.”
At a 1.8, the Bullhorn Acacia Ant is starting to bring the pain. This ant’s sting description is “A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.” Ouch. That doesn’t sound very comfortable!
The Bald-Faced Hornet comes in at a solid 2. “Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.” Man, this guy is eloquent in his descriptions!
Also sitting at a 2 is the Yellowjacket. “Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.” Wait, what? A cigar?
Still sitting at the number 2 mark, the European Honeybee is our next stinging insect. “Like a match head that flips off and burns on your skin.” This is how Dr. Schmidt describes the burn.
Stepping it up to the big 3 out of 4, the Red Harvester Ant is nothing to be messing with. “Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.” That’s disgusting, but no wonder, look at the chompers on these things!
The Paper Wasp is also bringing the pain with a rating of 3. “Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like Spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.” Holy crap, these things are starting to sound super vicious! Another simple reminder why I’m not fond of insects!
4/4. This is one of two chart toppers that we’re showing you today. The Tarantula Hawk! “Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has been dropped into your bubble bath.” Ok. I’m starting to think that Dr. Schmidt has been watching a few too many horror movies at this point. Remind me to steer clear of these nasty bugs!
Sitting at the top of the scale with a 4+/4 is the Bullet Ant. Wait. 4+? I thought the scale only went to 4. Can’t wait to hear the explanation of the pain inflicted by this one. Dr. Schmidt explains, “Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.” For real? What use do these ants have in nature that have granted them a reprieve from being viciously torched out of existence?
Here is a poster with a number of the 150 insects that Justin Schmidt has been stung by and indexed.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t care to spend any time getting up close and personal with any of these little critters.
Dr. Schmidt is an extremely dedicated entomologist that, contrary to popular misconception, never tries to get stung deliberately. The stings that he has received have all been in the line of duty, while conducting his important work with the insects. As you could assume from the creator of something called a Sting Pain Index, Dr. Schmidt is quite obsessed and is considered the world’s leading authority on the nature of stinging. While this field of study is definitely not for me, I’m glad that there’s someone out there willing to put in the hard work to heighten or lessen our fear of these creatures. Or possibly he has just given us a list of insects that we can hope to see on the next episode of Jackass, latching onto and inflicting pain on one of Knoxville’s knot-head buddies!