With the summer months in full swing, and wasps, bees ants and bed bugs all on the loose, it’s a good time to brush up on our knowledge of biting and stinging insects, in preparation for their peak season.
The Schmidt Pain Index – What is it?
The Schmidt Pain Index was created by Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Centre in the US state of Arizona. Essentially it is a big list of all the stings and bites you can get from an insect to which both Schmidt and his team subjected themselves in order to collect this data.
The pain index puts each insect on a pain scale of 0-4. 0 being completely harmless, with no pain whatsoever to 4 which in Schmidt’s words “You don’t want to know… The pain is so immediate and intense and it shuts down all illusions of life as normal. Imagine sticking a finger in a 240 volt electrical socket”
As well a determining a level of pain for each insect, the Schmidt Pain Index also provides information in regards to the duration of the pain. The description of the pain suffered by each insect sting/bite can be quite hysterical, but getting stung by some of these insects is no laughing matter. Not only does this provide information around the pain, but also in a way everyone can understand.
Schmidt has also gone on to study the chemistry behind the pain caused by insect stings and bites (the venom), as well as how and why insects use venom as part of their defense mechanism.
The Pain Index
By 1990 the Schmidt Pain Index covered 78 different insect stings and bites all with their own ratings and unique descriptions. So without further ado, here’s some of my favourite ratings…
Don’t worry, most of these nasty stingers won’t be found in Ireland but make for some interesting reading just the same!
Everyone has encountered ants in their lifetime, but how many of you have been bitten by one? Each of these species of ant brings its own unique level of pain to the table from the mild snap of the fire ant to the excruciating agony of the bullet ant, these tiny creatures are not to be messed with.
- Pain scale rating: 1.2
- Duration of pain: 2- 5 minutes
- Description: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.
Red Harvester Ant
- Pain scale rating: 3.0
- Duration of pain: 1- 8 hours
- Description: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
- Pain scale rating: 4.0+
- Duration of pain: 12- 24 hours
- Description: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3” rusty nail in your heel.
Did You Know the Satere-Mawe people of Brazil use bullet ants as part of their initiating rights to become a warrior? The young boy must wear a glove made from live bullet ants and endure 10 minutes of bullet ant stings.
Not to fear, the most common ant species found in Ireland is the black garden ant and that little crawler doesn’t even have a sting.
Most people have crossed paths with some sort of bee in their lifetime, from the humble bumble bee to the busy honey bee. The majority of the time we see them collecting nectar, helping to pollinate plants. But have you ever been stung by one? If you have then you might be able to relate to Schmidt’s accurate descriptions.
- Pain scale rating: 1.0
- Duration of pain: short
- Description: Light. ephemeral, almost fruity. As if a tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
- Pain scale rating: 2.0
- Duration of pain: 4-10 minutes
- Description: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns your skin.
Did You Know bees die after delivering a sting? Their stingers are barbed thus causing it to get stuck in our skin. As the bee tries to pull away she rips her stinger from her body which causes her untimely death.
Now it’s on to the bee’s more aggressive cousins Wasps and Hornets. Anyone who has ever come across one of this stinging insects knows how painful their stings can be so its no surprise a range of different wasp species were featured on the Schmidt pain index.
A little known fact is hornets are actually a species of wasp.
Bald Faced Hornet
- Pain scale rating: 2.0
- Duration of pain: 3- 4 minutes
- Description: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
- Pain scale rating: 3.0
- Duration of pain: 5- 15 minutes
- Description: Caustic and burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
- Pain scale rating: 4.0
- Duration of pain: 3 minutes
- Description: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath.
There may be hundreds of species of wasps, hornets and bees found around the world. Only a few of these are seen as real pests here in Ireland, and some of them don’t even sting. The Common and German Wasps are the two most commonly found wasp species in Ireland and the ones responsible for causing painful wasp stings. (but not as painful as the Tarantula Hawk)
Did you know you can book a wasp treatment online with Rentokil?
These are only a handful of the insect stings and bites rated by Schmidt and his team. Schmidt is currently working on the latest version of the pain index. It is said that the new pain index will include even more insect stings that Schmidt will subject himself to in the name of science.
Insect Stings and Bites
As you can tell from the insects described on the Schmidt Pain Index, suffering from a sting or bite can be quite painful, unless you’re talking about bullet ants in that case it will be excruciating.
If you feel you have a pest problem which can cause a nasty sting or bite then taking the time to contact a professional can save you from being another victim of the insects on the Schmidt Pain Index.
Call us today on 1890 666 444 or check out our website at www.rentokil.ie