Levels of Pain - How they were measured!
Have you ever been stung by something? Would you want to repeat it? This one weird guy would! And he did! And now everyone is using his scale for reference.
I find him completely fascinating because he let himself get stung more than 1000 times, since the beginning of his career - for science! This is why he is known as the king of sting.
Schmidt, whose fascination for insects developed when he was a child, grew up to be a biologist and researcher; and currently works in the South Western Biological Institute and the Entomology department at the University of Arizona.
On numerous fieldwork trips, the entomologist would find himself digging up living colonies of creatures, who in turn were not happy with this destructive human scooping them into bags - and promptly sank their fangs, stingers or pincers into him.
He collected his experiences and grouped them into a pain scale. The scale is called the Schmidt Sting Pain Index.
The Schmidt's pain index is organised into 4 levels; with 4 being the most painful.
Pain Level 1
This is the least painful stage. The duration of pain of most insects in this level generally lasts less than 5 minutes. An insect in this category include the Southern fire ant.
This is a stinging fire ant native to southern parts of the United States. It has a very large appetite and also a broad diet, and it loves to store seeds in its nest and eat honeydew collected from other insects.
The Elongate twig ant who is also listed in this level is a large,slender species native to Mexico. This ant who looks like a wasp are often seen on vegetation, searching for live insects or collecting honeydew from sap-sucking insects.
Other insects listed in this pain level include the Western paper wasp and the white-faced bee.
© AntWeb.org, via Wikimedia Commons
Schmidt has described the pain of insects in this level as
almost pleasant or
as when a tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
Pain Level 2
A variety of wasps, bees and ants are categorised in this level. The duration of the pain in this level is between 5 to 10 minutes long.
By ETF89 (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
The sting of a termite-raiding ant was categorised as a level 2. It's a strictly termite eating ant found in sub sahara Africa. Their amazing methods and lifestyle gave them the common name Matabele ant after the Matabele tribe, fierce warriors who overwhelmed various other tribes during the 1800s. They are currently one of the world's largest ants.
The pain of it's sting was noted to have a similar feeling as "the debilitating pain of a migraine contained in the tip of your finger".
Pain Level 3
Most insects in this level are wasps. Duration of the pain ranges from 5 minutes to half an hour. Some ants are in this level too.
Like the giant bull ants, which are characterised by their extreme aggressiveness and painful stings.Their stings are very strong, and the venoms from these ants are among the most toxic in the insect world causing a high percentage of deaths from ants in human.They also have large, bulgy eyes which gives them very clear vision.
The maricopa harvester ant, which is also listed in this pain level, is one of the most common species of harvester ant found in the United States. Its venom is believed to be the most toxic insect venom in the world. Schmidt described the sting of the maricopa harvester ant as:
The way you'll feel after eight unrelenting hours of drilling into that ingrown toenail, you find the drill wedged into the toe.
By Damon Rao, via Wikimedia Commons
Pain Level 4
This is the highest level on the pain index.
The tarantula hawk, which is a spider wasp that hunts tarantulas, was described as
blinding, fierce and shockingly electric. The pain lasts only 5 minutes.
The tarantula hawk uses its sting to paralyze its prey before dragging it to its nest as living food; a single egg is laid on the prey, hatching to a larva which eats the still-living prey. That's just crazy!
By Bernard DUPONT, via Wikimedia Commons
The bullet ant. It inhabits humid lowland rainforests from Nicaragua and the extreme east of Honduras and south to Paraguay. It is known for it's potent sting and was rated 4+ because he says the stings are
pure, intense,brilliant pain.
By Geoff Gallice, via Wikimedia Commons
Also describing it as:
walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel.The bullet ant's venom primarily contains poneratoxin, a paralyzing neurotoxic peptide.
The warrior wasp can be found in the tropical forests of the Americas,these insects are known for aggressive behavior, they perform a threat display consisting of multiple insects guarding a nest beating their wings. A research team in Brazil has discovered that it's stings contain a newly discovered compound that could be used to treat anxiety.
The warrior wasp sting was described as torture. Like being in an active volcano. The pain lasted up to 2 hours.
By L. Kimsey and M. Ohl (2012), via Wikimedia Commons
These 3 insects were considered to have the most painful stings.
The moral of this story: If you have a high pain tolerance or you just like getting stung by insects, go ahead and record everything you experienced, because you might just be used as a frame of reference by other scientists!
All image sources are stated in the text.