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The World’s Most Painful Insect Stings

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In Colorado, 90% of reported insect stings come from yellowjackets, so it’s unlikely that most of us have been stung by too many different kinds of insects. However, one insect researcher has been stung by at least 150 different kinds of insects (maybe more—he admits it’s sometimes hard for him to tell species apart based on their stings, although he can pinpoint the genus) from all over the world, which, he feels makes him a bit of an authority on the subject, and he’s developed a pain scale to rate the insects’ sting. I’d have to agree with him on his level of expertise.

Pain Level 1

Pain level 1 is noticeable, but not enough to make you drop your drink or even necessarily stop what you’re doing. A good example of pain level 1 is the fire ant. The pain is sharp and lasts for maybe 2-5 minutes. Fire ants haven’t made their way to Colorado yet, which is good because their aggressive swarming behavior can result in a lot of stings, which adds up to a lot of discomfort.

Pain Level 2

Pain level 2 will generally make you stop what you’re doing, though it’s not disabling. A honeybee sting is rated pain level 2, and generally lasts for 4-10 minutes, sometimes longer if you don’t get out the venom reservoir soon enough. Bumblebee stings are also rated pain level 2, though they don’t last as long. Yellowjackets are also rated a level 2 sting.

Learn how to tell the difference between bees and wasps here.

Pain Level 3

Pain level 3 is an intense burning pain. A velvet ant is a good example of a pain level 3 sting. The velvet ant is actually a wingless wasp, and, fortunately, it’s not found in Colorado, because the pain from its sting can last up to 30 minutes. A pain level 3 insect found in Colorado, though, is the western harvester ant. We grew up calling these “red ants,” a name whose simplicity created both specificity and awe for these ants’ very painful sting, which can cause pain for up to 8 hours. Another pain level 3 insect found in Colorado is the paper wasp.

Pain Level 4

Pain level 4 is described as nearly debilitating pain, like the touch of a 20,000 volt cattleprod. Fortunately, there are no pain level 4 stingers found in Colorado. Examples include the tarantula hawk, the warrior wasp, and the bullet ant, which is described as having the most painful sting.

Want to avoid stinging insects? We can help get rid of them on your property. Please contact Animal & Pest Control Specialist today.

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