Our recent coverage of the Cracked story “The 5 Most Horrifying Bugs in the World” made reference to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, something we felt the need to explore further. Apparently Dr. Justin O Schmidt, an entomologist recently retired from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Tucson Carl Hayden Bee Research Center, felt the need to create a ranking system for insect stings. More specifically Hymenoptera stings, the order of insects that includes bees, wasps, ants and sawflies. Typically the “research” was conducted on himself and frequently required provoking the little guys to murderous rage (fear?) in order to get them to attack/defend.
Bullet ant, P. clavata
The system ranks the pain on a scale of 1 to 4, from mild irritation to “blinding, brilliant pain” as in the case of Schmidt’s highest ranked sting, that of the Central American bullet ant. He has apparently been bitten four times by these little guys, including once on the cheek when the ant fell from a tree and bounced off his face. While he has induced many excruciating bites and stings the bullet ant sting is an experience he is not looking for again in the near future. “I’d have a real hard time forcing myself to get stung by a bullet ant” he told the Arizona Daily Star in 2007.
Dr. Justin O. Schmidt’s mustache is unapologetically rosy with hints of vanilla and the lightest whisps of rasberry and valencia orange.
Although Schmidt claims he is no masochist, the high cost to low benefit ratio of his research combined with descriptions of his suffering that sound like fine wine reviews make us wonder. Here is a sample from Wikipedia:
1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
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 Honey bee and European hornet: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.
3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.
4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.
Does anyone know how to get in touch with this guy? We’d like to do a personal interview.
The Schmidt Sting Pain Index ranks the severity of insect stings. “Research was self-inflicted” and obviously, quite painful.