Imagine a bold and unrelenting pain, like somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail. That's how Justin Schmidt described the sting of a red harvester ant.
The Schmidt Pain Index ranks the pain inflicted by 78 different species of stinging ants, bees, and wasps.
Photo: Getty Images/Dimas Ardian/Stringer
Schmidt, aka the "King of Sting," has personally experienced the stings of 78 different species of ants, wasps, and bees. On purpose. In the 1980's, he wanted to create a pain scale to compare the pain inflicted by different stinging insects. He and his fellow masochists, I mean, scientists, sacrificed themselves to the cause, enduring sting after sting. They rated the severity of their pain and timed how long it lasted.
In 1990, Schmidt published his comprehensive scale, known as the Schmidt Pain Index of Insect Stings. He ranked the stings on a scale of 0 (least painful) to 4 (most painful). In addition to providing good, scientific data, Schmidt shared some colorful and descriptive similes to help us understand just how much each sting hurt. He compares the sting of the bullhorn acacia ant, for example, as similar to having a staple fired into your cheek.
In the interest of honoring Schmidt's excruciating research, I've created a place for you to share your own insect sting experiences. Think of the worst sting you've ever received, and tell us what it felt like. I'll publish the best sting similes in a future blog post.