Worst Stinging Insects Auckland

It’s not what you’d think.

Female velvet ants are wingless wasps that range in size from small, as is this quarter-inch Dasymutilla asteria, to huge, nearly one-inch “cow killers.” Their stings rate between 1–3 on the Schmidt Pain Scale.

One day while Justin Schmidt was riding his bicycle, something went terribly wrong.

“I was huffing and puffing, so my mouth was open, and this damn honeybee flew right in and stung me on the tongue,” he says. He tumbled to the ground, flailing in agony. Later he described the sting as “immediate, noisome, visceral, debilitating. For 10 minutes, life is not worth living.”

It wasn’t the worst sting possible (we’ll get to that), but its intensity surprised him—which is surprising in itself, because Schmidt, a University of Arizona entomologist, has been stung over a thousand times and is famous for developing the Schmidt Pain Scale for Stinging Insects, a four-point scale with descriptions of agony that read like hoity-toity tasting notes for Scotch.

The red paper wasp, for instance, rates a 3 with pain that’s “caustic and burning, with a distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.” (See: “The Worst Places to Be Stung? Ask This Guy”)

Would You Risk Venomous Insect Stings for Your Job? September 21, 2016 - This researcher claims to have been stung by insects at least a thousand times during his research! For entomologist Justin Schmidt, getting stung by venomous insects is an occupational hazard. Schmidt collects and studies a variety of stinging insects such as harvest ants and Pacific cicada killers to discover the potential medical benefits of their venom.
Normally a honeybee sting is nothing to Schmidt. “Boring,” he says. But on the tongue, it was a whole different matter. Clearly, where you’re stung can matter as much as what stings you.

So when a Cornell graduate student named Michael Smith contacted him a few years ago with a plan to sting himself all over his body to map the pain, Schmidt had some advice: Don’t sting yourself in the eye, kid. But otherwise, go for it.

Smith, who studies bee biology, had been comparing notes with beekeepers and realized that everyone knew stings hurt worse in some places than others, but no one had ever systematically measured the pain. Would pain vary reliably on different body parts? Why do some places hurt worse? “Someone’s got to do it,” he says, “so as a scientist you go out there and make it happen. It’s curiosity; that’s what motivates you.”

He proceeded to sting himself with honeybees multiple times in each of 24 places on his body, from the top of his head to the tip of his middle toe, and he didn’t dodge the scary bits—the nipple, scrotum, and penis. What resulted was the most scientific look ever at the worst places to be stung.

Combine that with Schmidt’s pain index by insect, and you’ve got a good roundup of worst-case scenarios for stings. And that begs a question: What’s the ultimate sting? The apotheosis of insect-induced agony?

When I asked both scientists for the worst possible combination, they agreed that a bullet ant to the nostril would probably top the chart for intensity. Schmidt gave the bullet ant a 4 out of 4 on his index and describes the sting as “like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel.”

Smith found that the two most painful places to be stung are the nostril and the upper lip, followed by the penis shaft. The penis got more attention in press coverage, but Smith says “the nostril is really where it’s at.” And it makes sense that bees often target the nose, along with the mouth and eyes—they’re crucial to breathing and vision. “Pain isn’t for nothing,” Smith says; it motivates us to protect our vital functions.


edited from an article from  Erika Engelhaupt