8 Of The Worst Stings In The World

Justin O. Schmidt is an entomologist, meaning he likes bugs far more than the vast majority of the population. For his dissertation, he needed to learn the intimate details and composition of various harvester ant stings. He and his wife had to analyze numerous stinging insects, which resulted in some unpleasant experiences.

Evaluating both toxicity and pain, Schmidt came up with a pain scale and various accurate descriptions of how painful strings were from a variety of species known to sting their attackers or their prey. He compiled into his book, “The Sting of the Wild” which is where the following information comes from, with help from the fine folks at iflscience.
This is far from an exhaustive list, as Schmidt’s book contains sting analysis from 83 different species. This list starts with the mildest of the strings and goes up to the most painful stings. You may want to watch your step and change some travel plans after reading about how some of these stings register on the pain scale.

#1. Red Fire Ant
fire ant colony
Scientific name: Solenopsis invicta
Traditional range: South America
Description of sting: “Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.”
Pain level: 1

#2. Western Cicada Killer
Western Cicada Killer
Scientific name: Sphecius grandis
Traditional range: North America
Description of sting: “Pain at first sight. Like poison oak, the more your rub, the worse it gets.”
Pain level: 1.5

#3. Western Honey Bee
Western honey bee / Honingbij / Apis mellifera
Scientific name: Apis mellifera
Traditional range: Europe, Africa, Asia
Description of sting: “Burning, corrosive, but you can handle it. A flaming match head lands on your arm and is quenched first with lye and then sulfuric acid.”
Pain level: 2

#4. Velvet Ant (Parasitic Wasp)
Dasymutilla klugii, Velvet Ant
Scientific name: Dasymutilla klugii
Traditional range: North America
Description of sting: “Explosive and long lasting, you sound insane as you scream. Hot oil from the deep frying spilling over your entire hand.”
Pain level: 3

#5. Florida Harvester Ant
Florida Harvester Ant Workers (Pogonomyrmex badius)
Scientific name: Pogonomyrmex badius
Traditional range: North America
Description of sting: “Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a power drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.”
Pain level: 3

#6. Tarantula Hawk
Pepsis Wasp, Tarantula Hawk
Scientific name: Pepsis spp.
Traditional range: South America, Central America, North America
Description of sting: “Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has just been dropped into your bubble bath.”
Pain level: 4

#7. Bullet Ant
Bullet Ant
Scientific name: Paraponera clavata
Traditional range: South America, Central America
Description of sting: “Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over a flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail embedded in your heel.”
Pain level: 4

#8. Warrior/Armadillo Wasp
Vespidae: Polistinae: Epiponini: Synoeca cyanea
Scientific name: Synoeca septentrionalis
Traditional range: South America, Central America, North America
Description of sting: “Torture. You are chained in the flow of an active volcano. Why did I start this list?”
Pain level: 4

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