how do you rate your pain sir?

Entomologist Justin Schmidt has developed a pain scale for stings.

Justin Schmidt found here

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 and reaching for the light switch.

light switch found here

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.

Read about W C Fields’ ghost here

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.

image found here

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

4.0 Tarantula hawk: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.

image found here

4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.

And a couple more insect related stories to liven up your day.

In one horrific case in southern Africa, a man was attacked so relentlessly by honeybees that he had to jump into a river and hide beneath the surface. The bees continued to sting him every time he came up to breathe. The swarm was so dense he had to suck bees into his mouth and chew them to get any air. The attack went on for four hours, producing diarrhea, among other systemic effects, so that he was passing bees out one end while still ingesting them at the other. Finally, nightfall drew the bees back to their hive, and the victim dragged himself ashore. His face was literally black with embedded stings, and his hair was matted with dead bees. The doctors who treated him over the next few days counted 2,243 stings.

Stinging, says Schmidt, is a far more complex and paradoxical business than we might think. For instance, harvester ants, found from California to Florida, possess painful venom. In fact, one North American species has what Schmidt calls “the world’s most lethal arthropod venom.” And yet harvester ants are what American parents give the kids to play with almost every time they buy an ant farm. Luckily, these ants happen to be ideally suited for life in a plastic box, and they are so unaggressive that there’s little chance a child will suffer even a single sting, much less the hundreds needed to cause death.

image found here

Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 8:36 pm  Comments (56)  
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  1. A poet of pain, no doubt. And possibly a masochist.

    • I think his descriptions are very poetic

  2. How did he ever create this scale? Did he actually experience every one of these stings/sensations?
    (I’ve never understood pain scales….will never choose a 9 or 10….I figure something worse is out there waiting for me….)

    Love the picture of the dog in the bubble bath!

    • I’ve chosen a 10. In childbirth!

  3. I hate wasps. They sting you for absolutely no reason at all. Damn things.

    • I thought they only stung if you disturbed them

  4. A spider bit me on the hip once. While sleeping in bed. That sting swelled up to the size of a golf ball . Still have the scar from 30 years ago. Red fire ants own Miami, Florida.

    • My son was bitten on the forehead by a White Tailed Spider. It left a nasty, painful blister that hurt for days

  5. I’m with Thomas, what a useless creation wasps are.
    I always got the “rate your pain on a scale off 1-10” when in the ER for shots to dull my migraine pain. I once described the pain as “slightly worse than sawing your arm off with a rusty nail file”. Fastest service I ever received! 😀

    • What did they give you? I used to get pethidine for mine in ER but now they’re very reluctant to hand it out

      • Something called “Delauded”? Or something like that. They gave me Demerol ONCE – I almost redecorated the ER in upchuck!

  6. We had bee hives for years and, yes, we did get stung sometimes.
    But that creepy jesus light switch. Arghhh! Running away. Fast!
    Doggy bubble bath makes up for it though.;-)

    • Did you have your own fresh honey dinah?

      • Oh yes. Buckets of the stuff! 🙂

  7. The guy’s descriptions make me wonder if he didn’t have some masochistic form of synesthesia

    • I would love to see numbers in colour

      • Music, for me, is coloured. I always thought I was just a bit odd, but apparently, it’s not uncommon.

  8. As a child I remember being told that bees make honey and wasps make jam.

    • Your point being? *gasp* You mean they DON’T?????

      • Excellent use of reverse percontation there nursemyra.

  9. Dead man found covered in 60000 bees, says newspaper. He died from a fall rather than the stings (probably), They had to call in experts to remove the bees before they could examine the body. No mention of who counted the bees.

    • that’s a sad story Mike

  10. Funny… this is the same pain scale I use when being subjected to American Idol.

    • Haha….. you COULD always turn the television off 😉

  11. as a kid, stepping on honeybees was the first real sign of summer. typically, i’d get stung 6-10 times each season – and never went with shoes, despite the pain. got over it, put some meat tenderizer on it, and went back to playing… a couple years ago i got stung, and it hurt like a mother. no memory of how bad it hurt.

    and that bee sting photo is amazing!

    • Meat tenderiser?????

  12. “Fruity”, “slightly crunchy” (froggy?) – the man describes it like wine! Sacher-Masoch smiles upon him.

    • I love his descriptions

  13. Almost fruity, with deep base notes and a hint of chocolate. What?

  14. Schmidt sounds like a connoseur of painful sensations. Creepy.

    I disagree with his assessment of honey bee stings having a higher pain index than fire ant stings. Having been stung by both, I find fire ant stings much more painful.

  15. i always wondered if there was a meter to measure pain.
    i’ve been stung by bees quite a few times – but one at a time, which was bad enough.
    fire ants too are quite nasty but for me, honey bee sting is far worse.

  16. I’ve got off lightly then. In my entire life I’ve had one wasp sting and that’s it. Perhaps I exude some special chemical that keeps these noxious creatures at a distance. So I can linger in my bubble bath with complete confidence.

  17. Urrghhh, buzz off!

    The King

    • You talkin’ to me?

  18. I looked at a larger picture of Onychocyrtosis_(Club_Nail).JPG, the before and after surgery. The metal tool on the right hand side is all rusty. That persons getting an infection I bet.
    “Non-sterile surgical instruments can lead to massive infections in the patient. There are many viruses that can be carried on the instruments, as well as dirt and bacteria that accumulates on the instruments. This combination can lead to serious ailments in the patient as a result of negligence on the nurse and doctor’s parts” wrote resource4surgicalaccidents

    • and I forgot to comment on “A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.”

      I don’t know for sure, but I am pretty sure nothing will happen to you if electricity was dropped into a pool of water you are in. For electricity to affect you, you have to be in its path. Your hand would have to be inside the casing of the hair drier( the in), and the bathtub would have to be grounded with you touching some exposed metal for the out.

      They keep this “toaster in the bathtub” rumor going so that when someone tries to use it, it fails.

      • I hadn’t noticed it before you pointed it out, but those instruments do look rusty

  19. Makes you wonder how he came up with the descriptions in the first place.

  20. Schmidt sounds like another crazy south african let lose on an unsuspecting world. Hopefully America will not send him home to Arsezania (thats the new southafrica).

  21. I always thought yellow jackets were supposed to be worse than honey bees.

    • I though yellow jackets were fish.

  22. As a man I can assure you that even a sweat bee’s sting is pain beyond belief and necessitates much TLC

  23. Wow, that’s a great post. I can strike bees, European wasps and bull ants off my list, but I sincerely hope to avoid the ‘bullet’ ant, whatever that is.

  24. Strange guy, he must have been related to the Marquis de Sade? I’ll stick to rating wines, thanks 🙂

  25. Highly entertaining and Informative as usual Nursie. I notice there’s a lot less prancing about in your undies going on these days.

    You wouldn’t happen to be stepping out with a gentleman would you?

    Yours suspiciously

  26. Harrumph!!!!

  27. His descriptions sound like food.

  28. Excellent descriptions. Many people in the Kink scene define masochistic preferences according to “stingy” and “thuddy” pain…PS wasps don’t make jam, I do! If you consider “burnt peach” a palettable flavour.

  29. An interesting scale. My personal best being on the other end of a bolt of lightning coming down a telephone wire that I was standing on with wet bare feet inside the house during a storm….zzzzzzzzzzttttttt

  30. I honestly can’t remember the last time I was stung.
    My worst fight came with a spider, and that didn’t actually hurt, it only looked like my leg would fall off.

  31. I would definitely rate the Florida fire ants in the “2” range. They are horrible. And they leave white pustules wherever they sting. For this reason, we do our level best to exterminate them wherever we find them.

  32. And people still believe in a benevolent God

  33. I am so sick to my stomach right now. Because … bugs. Eeek! But also very much in awe of all those similes and metaphors.

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