The 5 most painful insect bites

These are the bites that hurt the most.

Tarantula hunting wasp

The tarantula hunting wasp sting is one of the most painful insect stings. / Photo: Wikimedia – Kynn Bartlett

LatinamericanPost| Juan Manuel Bacallado

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Leer en español: Las 5 picaduras de insectos más dolorosas

Would you dare to be bitten 150 times by 150 insects such as large wasps and ants to corroborate the pain it causes? Justin Orvel Schmidt did the same. In 1983, the American Schmidt took advantage of the constant bites he had received in his profession as an entomologist – the science that studies insects – to create what is now known as the "Schmidt Index", a pain scale that goes from level 1, the least painful, up to level 4, the worst, according to 20 Minutes.

Despite not being considered a scientific study for doing it in uncontrolled conditions such as in a laboratory, as well as offering a subjective score with peculiar and specific comparisons, the Schmidt Index is listed as the main pain scale in terms of hymenopteran insect bites, since it does not include bites from spiders, snakes and other animals. After receiving thousands of stings by more than 150 species, these are the 5 most painful of them all.

5) Paper wasp

"Like spilling hydrochloric acid on a papercut" is how Schmidt describes this sting, it enters level 3 for being "biting and burning". These wasps can measure up to 2 cm long, and thanks to the fact that their stinger does not come off, it usually stings repeatedly and leaves venom in each sting, although it is not toxic unless the person is allergic. In addition, it is unlikely to attack people, since they are not as aggressive as for example the “yellow jacket” wasp which is more common and aggressive, according to Río Negro.

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4) Red ant

Hormiga roja de fuego.
Lamentablemente son conocidas por muchos ya que su picadura, mediante la inyección de un veneno, produce una fuerte irritación, picor e incluso nauseas en los humanos. pic.twitter.com/7pm8KFPDDd

— Matamos x Encargo (@MatamosE) April 15, 2019

The red harvester ant has a sting that Schmidt compares with a “drill that digs a fingernail” leaving a “strong and constant” pain, so it enters level 3. The painful sting of this ant is due to the fact that this species does not have "soldiers" so the harvesters must also defend their colonies. They can measure from 4.7 mm to 11.15 mm, and in addition to biting with their stinger to inject venom, they also bite simultaneously, causing even more pain and generating inflammation. Its venom can cause an allergic reaction that results in dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and sneezing, so it must be medically treated, according to Plagas Wiki.

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3) Warrior wasp

Wasps definitely cause a lot of pain. In this case, the warrior wasp, also known as the armadillo wasp due to the shape of its honeycomb, reaches pain level 4 with a sting described by Schmidt as “Torture, you are in the flow of an active volcano” and even made him reflect on the why he made this list. The warrior wasp is about 5 centimeters long and has a fairly long stinger. In addition, this wasp not only defends itself by injecting venom with its stinger, but also uses its mandibular power to bite at the same time. It causes pain and inflammation in humans that does not become severe unless the person is allergic.

2) Tarantula hunting wasp

If this wasp has anything, it is a fearsome aspect. It grows to 5 cm and its stinger reaches 7 mm, its sting is so painful that Schmidt describes it as "blinding, fierce and electric" that also "eliminates the ability to do anything, except, perhaps, screaming. Mental discipline simply does not work in this situation ” , which is why he classifies it as the maximum level, 4. This wasp usually attacks only tarantulas three times its size, injecting a paralyzing venom, then taking them to their nest and depositing their Larvae, which when growing, feed on the interior of the spider while it is still alive according to Gizmodo.

These wasps do not attack humans unless provoked, their effect in people lasts between 3 to 5 minutes, in which it causes incessant and paralyzing pain, then leaves an itching and sharp pain sensation.

1) Bullet ant

The queen of pain is an ant, reaching level 4+ on the pain scale, with a peculiar description by Schmidt: “A pure, intense and brilliant pain. Like walking on incandescent embers with seven-centimeter rusty nails drilling the ankle. ” The pain caused by this ant lasts up to 20 hours from the bite, Schmidt compares it to a "bullet shot". Its size varies between 1.5 cm and 2.5 cm long, being the largest ant of the species according to Anipedia

The venom it injects through its stinger is known as poneratoxin, which has a neurotoxic effect that paralyzes prey. According to 20 Minutes, there is a tribe in the Brazilian Amazon, called Sateré-Mawé, who perform a very painful ritual with these ants, anesthetizing up to 300 ants to put them inside mittens, in which male children must put their hands and endure up to 10 minutes from when the bullet ants wake up and begin to sting, this rite must be performed up to 20 times for the participant to be considered a "real man".

At the end of this scale, Schmidt considers that he would still have liked to be bitten by other insects such as the wasp from the Congo or those from eastern Peru, as well as many other species, and despite receiving stings for more than 30 years, the American entomologist claimed not to be a "very resistant" person according to what was reported on the BBC. On the other hand, Schmidt explained that the reason he describes pain in a comparative and even illustrative way is because people do not think so much in numbers but more in images, art, beauty and songs according to what was outlined in Science Friday .


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