Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index

Insect pain scale

December 12th, 2010

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index is a bizarre pain scale which classifies the relative pain caused by different Hymenopteran stings (bees, wasp and ants). It was invented by the eccentric Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center. Schmidt has published a number of papers on the subject, claims to have been stung by the majority of stinging Hymenoptera, and appears to take a masochitic delight in being stung, describing each one like a fine wine.

• 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.

• 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 smashed in a revolving door.

• 2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.

• 2.0 Honey bee and european hornet: Like a match head 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.

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

• 4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.

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

Wikipedia

His original paper in 1984 was an attempt to systematize and compare the hemolytic properties of insect venoms. The index contained in the paper started from 0 for stings that are completely ineffective against humans, progressed through 2, a familiar pain such as a common bee or wasp sting, and finished at 4 for the most painful stings. In the conclusion, some descriptions of the most painful examples were given, e.g.: “Paraponera clavata stings induced immediate, excruciating pain and numbness to pencil-point pressure, as well as trembling in the form of a totally uncontrollable urge to shake the affected part.”