DEC 12, 2017 03:15 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
OCT 21, 2019
Clinical & Molecular DX
OCT 21, 2019
Hepatitis A Causes Public Health Crisis In Florida
Although highly contagious, Hepatitis A is considered a rare disease. It has largely been controlled through immunizations. That said, in Florida, Hepatiti...
OCT 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 21, 2019
These Monkeys Thought a Troop Member Died, and Their Reactions Are Heartbreaking
Scientists carefully placed a high-detail animatronic ‘spy monkey’ near the site of a troop’s living quarters in an effort to gather info...
OCT 21, 2019
Plants & Animals
OCT 21, 2019
Here's What Happens Inside a Caterpillar's Chrysalis
When a caterpillar undergoes the complex biological process of metamorphosis, it does so inside of a pointy bean-shaped enclosure that many people like to...
OCT 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2019
NASA's Dawn Mission Taught Us Much About the Asteroid Vesta
In 2011, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft arrived at its destination, enabling planetary scientists with the American space agency to study a particularly capt...
OCT 21, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
OCT 21, 2019
Catastrophic Ancient Events Might Have Forever Changed Life-friendly Venus
There is plenty of evidence suggesting that Venus had a long history of being a habitable planet due to its abundance of water, plate tectonics, and amicab...
OCT 21, 2019
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2019
SpaceX Will Need to Demonstrate a Dragon Capsule Abort for NASA
NASA’s Commercial Crew initiative enabled third-party contractors such as Boeing and SpaceX to develop platforms that may be used in future crewed mi...
Loading Comments...