The Schmidt sting pain index

Entomologist Justin Schmidt recorded his own experience of venomous stings, to rate and describe the pain caused by the venom of insects.

Explore part of the index below.

Red fire ant

Solenopsis invicta
Silhouette of a red fire ant Silhouette of a hand reaching for a light switch and a foot stepping onto a shag carpet

'Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.'

Tropical fire ant

Solenopsis geminata
Silhouette of a tropical fire ant Silhouette of a hand reaching for a light switch and a foot stepping onto a shag carpet

'You should have learned, but the carpet is the same, and when you again reach for the light switch, the shock mocks you.'

Southern fire ant

Solenopsis xyloni
Silhouette of a southern fire ant Silhouette of a hand reaching for a light switch

'It happens on the third day, as you reach for the light switch, and you're wondering when you will ever learn.'

Suturing army ant

Eciton burchellii
Silhouette of a suturing army ant Silhouette of an arm with a needle and thread aimed at the elbow

'A cut on your elbow, stitched with a rusty needle.'

Paper wasp

Polistes versicolor
Silhouette of a paper wasp Silhouettes of an arm and a pan suspended above it, with a drop of oil about to land on the fore arm

'Burning, throbbing and lonely. A single drop of superheated frying oil landed on your arm.'

Bulldog ant

Myrmecia simillima
Silhouette of a bulldog ant Silhouette of a dog with open jaws and menacing teeth

'Intense, ripping and sharp. The dog's tooth found its mark.'

Giant ant

Dinoponera gigantea
Silhouette of a giant ant Silhouette of a foot with an open wound and blood droplets stepping into a claw-foot bath tub

'A pulsing sting with some flavour. You stepped into a salt bath with an open wound.'

Glorious velvet ant

Dasymutilla gloriosa
Silhouette of a glorious velvet ant Silhouette of a person walking toward an oversized knife

'Instantaneous, like the surprise of being stabbed. Is this what shrapnel feels like?'

Large tropical black ant

Neoponera villosa
Silhouette of a large tropical black ant Silhouette of an opened cutthroat razor

'Exquisitely sharp and expertly clean. Broadway's favourite barber selects his next victim.'

Western yellow jacket

Vespula pensylvanica
Silhouette of a western yellow jacket wasp Silhouette of a lit cigar

'Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.'

Western honey bee

Apis mellifera
Silhouette of a western honey bee Silhouettes of a bottle with skull on it, a lit match and a dripping test tube

'Burning, corrosive, but you can handle it. A flaming match head lands on your arm and is quenched with lye and then with sulphuric acid.'

Trap-jaw ant

Odontomachus sp.
Silhouette of a trap-jaw ant Silhouette of a rat trap

'Instantaneous and excruciating. A rat trap snaps your index fingernail.'

Warrior wasp

Synoeca septentrionalis
Silhouette of a warrior wasp Silhouette of an erupting volcano

'Torture. You are chained in the flow of an active volcano. Why did I start this list?'

Bullet ant

Paraponera clavata
Silhouette of a bullet ant Silhouette of a foot with a nail in the heel stepping onto hot coals

'Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail embedded in your heel.'

Tarantula hawk wasp

Pepsis sp
Silhouette of a tarantula hawk wasp Silhouette of a hair dryer falling into a bubble bath

'Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has just been dropped into your bubble bath.'

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