DEC 12, 2017 3:15 PM PST

8 Insects that Inflict the Worst Pain

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Ever wonder how scientists rate how painful a bug's bite can be? Up until 1990, there was no standardized scale for this sort of inquiry - people just went by word of mouth about which bug's bite were more painful than others.

Realizing the need for this pain classification, Justin Schmidt, an enthusiastic entomologist, decided to sacrifice himself. Schmidt voluntarily got stung by nearly 80 species of bugs that are known to inflict pain (some quite viciously).

After enduring the pain that no one else would willingly agree to, Schmidt came up with a pain scale, deservedly named the "Schmidt Pain Index." This consisted of ratings that range from 1 to 4, with 4 being the most exquisite pain that Schmidt experienced.

The pain index is also unique in that Schmidt didn't just assign a number to a bug's bite - he colorfully describes the pain in ways that let people relate exactly to how mild or painful the bite really is. Consider, for example, the bullet ant - Schmidt rates this bug's bite at the top of the pain scale at 4+. However, the true pain of a bullet ant's bite becomes visceral once you hear Schmidt's description: "Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail grinding into your heel."

The Schmidt's Pain Index represents one man's true dedication to codify pain from insect stings and bites. Schmidt was recognized for his sacrifice when he earned the Ig Nobel Prize for physiology and entomology in 2015.

Watch the video to learn the 8 insects with the worst stings, as rated by the Schmidt's Pain Index.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Spot 4 Mysterious Circular Objects in Space
JUL 10, 2020
Astronomers Spot 4 Mysterious Circular Objects in Space
Scientists have spotted a new kind of signal in space- four strange, circular objects. Three are particularly bright aro ...
AUG 22, 2020
Neuroscience
Why Don't Babies Always Remember What they Learn?
AUG 22, 2020
Why Don't Babies Always Remember What they Learn?
Researchers from Ruhr- Universitaet Bochum (RUB) in Germany have found that the mood babies are in when they learn somet ...
SEP 18, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Toward Understanding Anesthesia
SEP 18, 2020
Toward Understanding Anesthesia
General anesthesia refers to the medical procedure anesthesiologists applies to patients, in order to induce paraly ...
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
NOV 18, 2020
Plants & Animals
This Bat Species Uses Masks for Mating
NOV 18, 2020
This Bat Species Uses Masks for Mating
From pandemic precautions to televised talent shows, masks are having a moment. Even this bizarre bat species has a buil ...
NOV 24, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Want to Keep Calm? Tap Water Might Help
NOV 24, 2020
Want to Keep Calm? Tap Water Might Help
The ongoing worldwide pandemic places the mental health of many communities on red alert. But there may be a remedy to e ...
Loading Comments...