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This man has been stung by a tarantula hawk, bullet ant, cow killer, and more -- here's why

If you saw a tarantula hawk, you’d probably run away. This man gets up close and personal with them. Coyote Peterson is a YouTube star who wants to educate his 8 million subscribers about — among other things — what it’s like to get stung or bitten by various animals and insects. We spoke with Coyote about why he does this to himself, and what it’s like being a human test bed for these stings. Following is a transcript of the video.

Coyote Peterson: “Gah! I can’t movie my arm!”

I’m Coyote Peterson. I’m a host of the Brave Wilderness channel on YouTube.

“This is the most nervous I’ve ever been to take a sting or bite from anything.”

Why do I do the bites and stings? At the end of the day it comes down to the education that we take away from this. For me to put myself into the position of the experimenter, to show you just how bad this bite or sting can be, and then not only how bad it can be, but how to sort of react to it after the fact.

These are not creatures out there that are looking to bite or st ong you. Oftentimes, they only bite or sting as a defence to help them get away.

With something like the tarantula hawk, it was pretty intense. It was like an electrical shock into my arm. It actually put my arm into a state of paralysis, but the pain was only super intense for about 5 minutes. After that, my arm was still sore. It swelled up, you know, almost twice the size. Basically, I learned that day, and hopefully everybody out there watching also learned, that the tarantula hawk is definitely something you just want to admire from a safe distance.

The tarantula hawk only ranks as like the third most painful sting on the insect Sting Pain Index. One being least amount of pain. Four being the most amount of pain. The only fours that exist are the warrior wasp and the bullet ant. Now the bullet ant I’ve been stung by.

I would definitely say there’s not a safe spot to be stung. And the reason I’m always stung on my left forearm is primarily for camera purposes. By placing my arm out in front of us on a table, it gives you a real clear sort of target zone. And I hold these creatures safely in what are called entomology forceps. Which are sort of soft-tipped tweezers. And because they’re trying to get away, they’re naturally in their processes of like, OK, I’m gonna sting, I’m gonna sting.

It takes a couple seconds and boom! You end up taking a sting. I drop the forceps. The bug comes off my arm. I safely get it underneath the glass capsule so that it is contained safely, and then we continue on with me explaining exactly what my body is going through.

“Ugh, I gotta try to control my heart rate.”

“It is like … erggghhh it’s hot!”

Well getting stung by any insect can be potentially very dangerous. Whether it’s something as simple as a honey bee or something as extreme as bullet ant. If you are ever stung by anything, always seek medical attention. Because you never know how your body is going to react to the venom.

And everybody’s internal system is different than everybody else’s. For me, I handle venoms extremely well. So far to this point. So I always have a localised swelling, oftentimes blotchiness to the skin, very sore, very tender, and then depending on how my body reacts, a couple hours later my arm may be swollen to twice the size. Which did happen with the bullet ant. And actually a recent bite that I took from a giant desert centipede, which I actually still have the marks on my arm right now. I took two bites, and it was the most painful bite I’ve ever taken.

We do a massive amount of research before we film any of these bite or sting episodes. And most of the bites that I’ve taken, other than the accidental ones like the Gila monster, have been non-venomous. So an American alligator, common snapping turtle, some of the pinches from like a lobster or a Dungeness crab, that’s not going to kill me.

When it comes to stings or bites that are venomous, we always contact medical professionals before we go through with this. We have a safety team on set with us just in case something is to go tragically wrong. And the last line of defence no matter what is to always have an epinephrine pen with us in case I go into anaphylactic shock.

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