He’s let thousands of insects bite and sting him—here’s what he’s learned



You most likely do not appreciate the pain of a well-stubbed toe, however discomfort is a benefit. Stings teach us to prevent comparable dust-ups in the future, however entomologist Justin Schmidt declines to observe the cautions. He’s been poked a minimum of 1,000 times in the name of the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, a scale that objectifies the strength of our boo-boos, so he’s got a sommelier’s taste buds for discomfort. Here’s a taste of some of his most scrumptious entries.

PainLevel 1

SweatBees: “Light and ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.”

LittleWasp: “Sharp meets spice. A slender cactus spine brushed a buffalo wing before it poked your arm.”

IndianJumping Ant: “Ah, that wonderful wake-up feeling, like coffee but oh so bitter.”

PainLevel 2

WesternHoney Bee: “A flaming match head lands on your arm and is quenched first with lye and then sulfuric acid.”

YellowJacket: “Hot and smoky, ­almost irreverent. Imagine W.C. Fields ­extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.”

HoneyWasp: “Spicy, ­blistering. A cotton swab dipped in ­habanero sauce has been pushed up your nose.”

PainLevel 3

Red- headed Paper Wasp: “Immediate, irrationally intense, and ­unrelenting…the closest you will come to seeing the blue of a flame from within the fire.”

RedPaper Wasp: “Caustic and burning, with a distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.”

FloridaHarvester Ant: “Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a power drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.”

PainLevel 4

TarantulaHawk: “Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair dryer has just been dropped into your bubble bath.”

BulletAnt: “Pure, extreme, fantastic discomfort. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a [3-inch-nail] ingrained in your heel.”

WarriorWasp: “Torture. You are chained in the flow of an active volcano. Why did I start this list?”

This short article was initially released in the Winter 2018 Danger problem ofPopular Science.

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