Sticky Acres

If Only Every Wikipedia Page Were This Funny

In an effort to become a honey tycoon, I’ve been reading a lot of obscure beekeeping-related materials.

I love how Justin O. Schmidt describes the sensation of being stung by various stinging insects like he is reviewing fine wines.

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index or the Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index is a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by different Hymenopteran stings. It is mainly the work of Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center. Schmidt has published a number of papers on the subject and claims to have been stung by the majority of stinging Hymenoptera.His original paper in 1984[1] was an attempt to systematize and compare the hemolytic properties of insect venoms. The index contained in the paper started from 0 for stings that are completely ineffective against humans, progressed through 2, a familiar pain such as a common bee or wasp sting, and finished at 4 for the most painful stings. In the conclusion, some descriptions of the most painful examples were given, e.g.: “Paraponera clavata stings induced immediate, excruciating pain and numbness to pencil-point pressure, as well as trembling in the form of a totally uncontrollable urge to shake the affected part.

“Subsequently, Schmidt has refined his scale, culminating in a paper published in 1990[2] which classifies the stings of 78 species and 41 genera of Hymenoptera. Notably, Schmidt described some of the experiences in vivid and almost synesthetic detail:

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 Yellowcoat (yellow jacket): 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+ Zapper ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.[3]

One Comment

  1. Posted June 17, 2010 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    We have paper wasps everywhere here. I remember kicking a nest once while climbing a fence, the resultant scream made neighbours come from everywhere

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