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The Insect Sting Pain Scale

Which insects you should look out for?


What's going on?

The Schmidt Sting Pain Index, created by Dr. Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist, is used to describe the various discomforts inflicted by insect stings. It is also used to rate the relative pain caused by different hymenopteran stings such as bees, wasps, and ants. Schmidt subsequently refined his scale, classifying the sting from 78 different species and 41 genera of Hymenoptera – describing the sting experiences in vivid details.


Schmidt’s sting pain index is categorized into different levels, ranging between 1 to 4, starting from the level of irritation to excruciation. To contextualize the scale, Dr. Justin includes a brief description of his experience being stung by different types of insects.


According to Schmidt Sting Pain of level 1, the sting of Southern fire ant, elongate twig ant, Western paper wasp, white-faced bee and small bees are all placed under this category. Under level 2 of the pain index, they include a variety of wasps, bees, and ants such as yellow jacket, Asiatic honey bee, trap-jaw ant and bald-faced hornet. At the highest pain level 4, this includes bullet ant which its sting has been described as “pure, intense, brilliant pain, like walking over flaming charcoal with a three-inch nail embedded in your heel”.