What’s the Most Painful Sting?

What’s the Most Painful Sting? An Interview with ‘the King of Sting’

By Douglas Main

Bullet-antThe bullet ant (Paraponera clavata) has the most painful sting in the insect world. Juan Carlos Ulate/REUTERS

Tech & ScienceInsectsSting

I met entomologist Justin Schmidt by chance in an Arizona ghost town. I was there to write a story about how the monsoon brings out tons of bizarre-looking creatures and the naturalists who chase them. Schmidt, one of those colorful bug-lovers, was relaxing with his family and, of course, running after insects. Cow-killers, to be exact. These red, fuzzy-looking wasps are renowned for their painful stings.

But exactly how painful? And how does this compare with something more common, like a honeybee?

Well, thanks to Schmidt, now we know. The entomologist created the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, which ranks how much the stings of various insects hurt, on a scale of zero to 4, and gives a colorful description of the resulting sensation. Read more.