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Video of the Week: Schmidt Sting Pain Index

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index is a scale that rates the amount of pain inflicted by different Hymenopteran (winged insects -- ants, bees, wasps & sawflies) stings. The index was devised by Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist in Tucson, Arizona.

The index starts at zero for stings that are completely ineffective against humans, and finishes at 4 for the most painful stings. Here are the standings of the wasps, hornets and yellowjackets with which we're familiar -- along with a colorful description of each sensation:

2.0 Bald-faced Hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.

2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.

2.x European Hornet: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.

3.0 Paper Wasp: Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.

Interesting... Paper Wasps are the least aggressive of the insects listed above, yet they are said to have the most painful sting.

It's hard to imagine any sting even more painful than a yellowjacket or wasp sting, but there are a couple that are, according to Schmidt. Getting up into the 4.0 range are the Tarantula Hawk (Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric... a running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath) and the Bullet Ant (Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel).

Ouch.

Here's a little video about the Schmidt Sting Pain Index... our clip of the week:

September 5, 2008 in Hornets, Video, Wasps, Yellowjackets | Permalink

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