C63F6E Polistes olivaceus : paper wasp showing impressive sting

Interview With Justin Schmidt And His Insect Pain Index

Interview With Justin Schmidt And His Insect Pain Index 

justin-schmidt-sting-of-the-wildJustin Schmidt has his own Insect Pain index, and you… I’m afraid, do not. More importantly, Justin Schmidt has a book about his sting pain index soon. Better than better yet, Just agreed to chat with me a bit about his sting index and how it was that he came up with such a thing.

I remember the first time I caught a bumblebee, thinking it was a moth, or some other non-stinging insect, and flipped out when I realized just how hostile and cruel this world could possibly be. Then after that, maybe I would take to ripping the stingers off of bees and hornets and stinging others… yeah, rude… I know. And then there was the time I was stung by yellow jackets… which I mention to Dr. Schmidt about during our interview. I remember telling that story once to my team, and I was winding that story up with gusto – and one of the guys on my team said, “If this doesn’t end with you getting stung, multiple times, I’m going to be very disappointed.” Which was fair enough. hahaha.

Anyway, enough pontificating… I would like you to know though, that Justin’s book, The Sting of the Wild can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. It’ll drop in March. And I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth the wait. I’ve already pre-ordered my copy because I can’t wait to hear more about this story. Here is the Schmidt’s pain index… which, granted, is subjective… but heck, I figure he gets to call the shots because he’s the only one I know of that’s been stung by a Bullet Ant… so I vote that we let him.


THinc. – “Where does one get the idea – I KNOW WHAT I WANT TO DO! I’M GOING TO HAVE DANGEROUS BUGS STING ME REPEATEDLY!??? Can you recall the moment where you were and what you were thinking? Were you under the influence of drugs or alcohol?”

Dr. Schmidt – “I don’t know. I think people want to think I intentionally sting myself, when actually I get most stings simply as a byproduct of my research.”

THinc. – “How does one even get access to insects like the ones you worked with for your book? I’m assuming you can’t purchase them at Amazon or your local mall? Did it require lots of travel?”

Dr. Schmidt – “I spend a lot of time studying insects in the field. Also, whenever I travel, I’m always working on/looking for insects. In general most of these cannot be obtained online.”

yellow-jacket-wasps-command-pest-controlTHinc. – I once tried to caulk a yellow jacket hole in the side of my house – and had several fly into my t-shirt (I wasn’t properly attired, we can establish this right now) and got stung repeatedly on my back and side. On your pain index, did I make it out of one and up to two at least? I think your chart makes me reevaluate that experience from beginning to end.”

Dr. Schmidt – “Yellowjacket stings are a solid 2.”

THinc. – “Solid two! Woot! I’ll take a solid two. Anyway, in the movie Gone in Sixty Seconds, Nicolas Cage was haunted by Eleanor, and his desire to steal what he thought was the perfect car. What is your Eleanor? Your white stag? Your magical unicorn that you would like to be stung by? And why?”

Dr. Schmidt – “I don’t really have a particular special insect. Interesting ants live in Congo, ants and wasps in eastern Amazonas, hornets in Asia.”

THinc. – “I know you’ve ranked the bullet ant as the worst pain imaginable, you described it as “Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a three inch nail embedded in your heel.” Can you tell us a little bit about this experience? Was it an accident, or did you do it intentionally? If it was intentional, how does one prepare for this kind of encounter? I assume you cleared your calendar, but did you also have medical personnel nearby?”

bullet-antDr. Schmidt – “It was an accident during excavating a colony. I don’t have any allergies, so that is no problem.”

THinc. – “Have you ever been stung or bitten and thought, this is it… martha, I’m comin’ honey!”

Dr. Schmidt – “When you’re doing something important and interesting, you just pick up after an unpleasant event and keep going.”

THinc. – “I love your dedication to this project, and your efforts to entertain (I mean educate, how did that slip out?) us all. Cannot wait to get my hands on your book in March.”

Dr. Schmidt – “Education and entertainment go together.”


Man, such a crazy idea to willingly go about getting stung or bitten. Have you all seen the video of the bullet ant rituals? Wherein young guys wear gloves with bullet ants in them? It’ll sort of give you perspective on what getting stung by a bullet ant is like. Not that I would know! hahah.