Getting stung by a honey bee can hurt, but there are a variety of insects out there that have even more powerful stings. Justin Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwest Biological Institute in Arizona, developed a pain scale to measure the pain caused by Hymenoptera — an order of insects that typically have stingers.
The scale, called the Schmidt sting pain index, goes from zero to four in order of painfulness. Zero is least painful with four the most painful. Schmidt claimed to have been stung by many insects in his research and the pain index is based on first-hand experience. Schmidt admitted that the scale and descriptions he has written about the stings isn’t perfectly empirical, but it can help people understand how painful stings can be.
The SciShow compiled a list of some insects with painful bites and the chemical compounds that their venom is full of.
1. Fire Ant — This insect gets a one on the scale. By itself, it doesn’t hurt much, but getting bitten by a group of them packs a punch.
2. Honey Bee — An insect lots of people have had an experience with. It gets a one on the scale. Due to people’s allergies to them, bees are one of the deadliest animals in North America.
3. Yellow Jacket — This wasp gets a two on the scale. Unlike the honey bee, it can sting repeatedly without dying.
4. Harvester Ant — This ant gets a three on the scale. Schmidt described the pain feeling like “after eight unrelenting hours of drilling into that ingrown toenail, you find the drill wedged into the toe.”
5. Redheaded Paper Wasp — This bee gets a three on the scale. Schmidt described this pain as “the closest you will come to seeing the blue of a flame from within the fire.”
6. Warrior Wasp — This bee gets a four on the scale. A group of these insects will beat their nest rhythmically to warn predators.
7. Tarantula Hawk — This insect despite its name is a wasp. It gets a four on the scale and Schmidt describes the pain as an “electric, a shock from the heavens.”
8. Bullet Ant —This ant’s sting lasts 24 hours. It gets a four on the scale.