The Schmidt Pain Index was developed by Dr. Justin Schmidt, an entomologist, as a method ofor comparing the pain of various different insect stings he experienced during his work. The scale runs from 1 to 4, with four being the most painful. Pain can be subjective, varying from person to person, and this scale is there therefore not absolute. Click Sting Pain Index to enlarge ...

Note: The European Hornet is not displayed in the chart above (See 2.x in Pain Index Samples below). The Schmidt Sting Pain Index is a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by different hymenopteran stings. It is mainly the work of Justin O. Schmidt (born 1947), an entomologist at the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Arizona. Schmidt has published a number of papers on the subject, and claims to have been stung by the majority of stinging Hymenoptera.

Hymenoptera is the third-largest order of insects, including sawflies, wasps, bees, and ants.

Hornets are ...

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder:  Apocrita
Family: Vespidae
Subfamily: Vespinae
Genus: Vespa

Pain Index Samples

Keep in mind the duration of the pain, mix of other toxins in the venom, the potency and toxicity of the venom, the necrotic and hemorrhagic properties of the venom, the aggressiveness of the insect, and their propensity to swarm are factors that can also affect the severity of a sting or stings. In other words, pain is not necessarily directly correlated with potency of venom.

1.0  Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.

1.2  Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and getting a static spark while reaching for the light switch.

1.8  Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.

2.0  Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door [Our note: Bald-faced Hornets can be very aggressive. They don't want you within 12 feet of their nest, which could be hidden in low-lying shrubs or up high near a roof soffit. They're known to swarm and attack human heads, lower legs and pursue fleeing humans. If fleeing a swarm, you would be lucky to be able to jump into a swimming pool, but be careful coming up for air ... they might be waiting.]

2.0  Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.

2.x  Honey bee and European hornet (EH), Asian Giant Hornet (AGH) [Our note: Asian Giant Hornets and European Hornets have chemicals in their venom that can cause atrial fibrillation (EH) and ulcer wounds (AGH) the size of bullet holes, toxic hepatitis (AGH) and toxic myocarditis (AGH)].

3.0  Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.

3.0  Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.

4.0  Pepsis wasp, also Tarantula Hawk: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. "A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath" (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream, but at least you won't be electrocuted and killed like as the case of the hair drier in the bubble bath tragedy).

4.0+  Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.

In this episode of Breaking Trail (below), Coyote Peterson gets stung by a terrifying Tarantula Hawk, On this episode of Breaking Trail, Coyote gets stung by a terrifying Tarantula Hawk, Pepsis grossa.