After being stung by a wasp or two, most of us learn that we’d rather avoid creatures that can cause us a good amount of pain simply by plunging a spike on their abdomen into our skin.
Not Justin Schmidt.
Schmidt is an entomologist who studies stinging insects. He is known for creating the Schmidt pain scale index, which goes from a one (like a sweat bee) to a four (the level of a tarantula hawk wasp). The yellow jackets that were likely the first stings many of us experienced just rate a two. The scale, which Schmidt developed after getting stung by insects of all stripes throughout his career, measures just how bad each and every one of those stings really are.
So how bad are the worst of the bunch?
In a recent video for Great Big Story, Schmidt gets down to details:
Of the bullet ant (a four-plus), Schmidt says: “Pure, intense, brilliant pain … Like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel.”
As you can tell from the name, other people describe it as similar to the sensation of being shot.
And that’s just one of the many stings Schmidt rates in his new book, “The Sting of the Wild.”
For him, it’s not some sort of masochism. But he is fascinated by stinging insects, and sometimes, those painful pricks are just part of the job.
“Yeah, I get stung, but that’s all just part of the passion, that gives me data,” he says. “A sting helps me in understanding what the insect is doing.”
At least someone out there is figuring out these details so we don’t have to.
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