From the terrifying spider wasp that can attack and paralyse spiders many times its size to the delicate, brown-striped paper wasps that are able to build intricate nests out of wood pulp and saliva we have all dealt with wasps before.
But did you know there is something called, The Schmidt Sting Pain Index? It is a list compiled by an American entomologist, Justin O. Schmidt, who has personally been stung and bitten by countless different creatures and has then ranked the pain each caused on a scale of 1 to 4, 4 being the most painful. To the joy of anyone who isn't a total scientist geek he has included very wine nerdishesque descriptions of the accompanying pain. I have included the most colourful ones below:
- Honey Wasp - Brachygastra Mellifica - "Spicy, blistering, a cotton swab dipped in habanero sauce has been shoved up your nose" (2)
- Indian Jumping Ant - Harpegnathos Saltator - "Ah, that wonderful wake-up feeling, like coffee but oh so bitter." (1)
- Asian Needle Ant - Brachyponera Chinensis - "Nightfall following a day at the beach. You forgot the sunscreen. Your burned nose lets you know." (1)
- Yellow Fire Wasp - Agelaia Myrmecophila - "An odd, distressing pain. Tiny blowtorches kiss your arms and legs.' (2.5)
- Warrior Wasp - Synoeca Septentrionalis - "Torture. You are chained in the flow of an active volcano. Why did I start this list?" (4)
So why the sudden interests in wasps? My next task in the great Iziko digitisation project is to photograph 1850 drawers of Hymenoptera specimens (the family consisting wasps, bees, ants and a few other six legged critters) and I need to make it interesting somehow!
Interesting today is the Anteon Townesi, a wasp so small it is similar to the size of a head of the specimen pin holding it down. Without a macro lens there would be very little point in even taking the photograph.
So... On the Schmidt Sting Pain Index where would the Anteon feature? The poor little guy wouldn't even get a mention as his sting isn't even able to puncture our skin.