Thursday, August 24, 2006

Schmidt Sting Pain Index

I saw a piece on local TV about the invasion of scorpions in the central Texas area (btw, this is the first local news segment I've watched in 3 months). I've been wondering about this for a long time: how bad are stings from different wasps (including hornets and yellowjackets), bees and ants? Now I know. But I couldn't recall each type of insect sting I've received, and I've always been curious about the differences between the types of pain. It's hard to describe, but the pain from different stings is composed of very different unpleasant sensations.

I've not been stung by a scorpion despite having encountered 10 in my old apartment in one summer. But they supposedly feel no worse than a strong bee sting. I have however stepped barefoot and firmly on a Tarantula hawk (a.k.a. Pepsip wasp); its dying efforts focused on filling my foot with poison. This one in particular was a Pepsis formosa, a shiny black wasp with "metallic blue" sheen.

The sting, particularly of Pepsis formosa, is among the most painful of any insect.
Cool, so I wasn't just being a pantywaist. It felt like I stepped on a burning hot shard of glass which splintered in the arch of my sole. I couldn't focus my eyes by the time I looked down at my foot, but I could see a black shape that shouldn't be there, and I knew it wasn't blood. I swiped the crushed wasp away and gimped towards the bathroom sink where I sat with my foot under cold water until somebody found me 10 minutes later. I had immense difficulty walking the next day. Stay away from black, shiny wasps.

This segment of the Hippie Nature Show was brought to you by my favorite website for undirected web surfing and edu-tainment, Wikipedia.

No comments: