Every species in the world possesses certain defense mechanisms that protect them from predator invasions. From claws to sharp teeth, from horns to stingers, we get to see a diverse list of them in the animal kingdom. Every human on this earth must have been stung or bitten by an insect at some point in his life.
Often, it causes redness with severe itching or pain, but in some cases, it may cause severe allergic reactions and may prove fatal. From the endless list of insects, it is a common query among the general mass as to which insect has the most painful sting.
To answer this, we bring to you a ranked list of the Top 15 Most Painful Stings in the world. The ranking has been made based on their rating on the Schmidt’s Pain Index.
15) Giant Hunting Ant
The Giant Hunting Ant, also known as the Hairy Panther Ant, is an active hunting species of ants. Usually found in trees, in the canopy layer. This ant has quite a large stinger, with which it can deliver a painful sting.
The Giant Hunting Ant has a Schmidt’s Pain Index of 2, and the pain may last anywhere between 5-10 minutes. They usually make their colonies in the ground or on decaying logs.
Scientific name– Neoponera villosa
Location- North America
14) Mexican Honey Wasp
Next up on our list of Most Painful Stings in the World, we have the Mexican Honey Wasp, with a pain Index of 2. Known to cause pain for nearly 5 minutes, the sting of the Mexican Honey Wasp is quite painful.
These wasps generally are in the size range of 7-9 mm, and only the females have the stinging organ. The Mexican Honey Wasp, as the name suggests, is among the very few wasp species known to produce honey.
Scientific name- Brachygastra mellifica
Location- North and South America
13) Asian Giant Hornet
The following insect on our list with an excruciating sting is the Asian Giant Hornet, the largest hornet in the world. These species generally occur in the range of 1.5-2 in (45- 52 mm) and 6-8 mm long stinger. The sting causes pain and injects toxic venom, which is neurotoxic. Though a single sting may not be lethal, multiple stings may be enough to cause death.
Scientific name- Vespa Mandarinia
Location- East, South, and Southeast Asia
12) Bulldog Ant
The Bulldog ants are widely famous for their excruciating stings and venom, which is counted among the most toxic venoms in the arthropod world. The sting of these ants finds a Schmidt’s Index rating of 2 and is described as intense and sharp. Their sizes vary in the range of 8 to 40 mm, with some being among the largest ants in the world.
Scientific name- Myrmecia sp.
Location- Australia and New Zealand
11) Trap-Jaw Ant
The Trap Jaw ants are popular for their large mandibles, which deliver a potent bite. Schmidt describes the pain to be excruciating, like the snapping of a rat trap on the fingernail. These ants are predatory and can deliver a sting apart from their powerful bite. The pain may last anywhere between 6-10 minutes.
Scientific name- Odontomachus sp.
Location- Worldwide, in the tropics and sub-tropical areas
10) Western Yellow Jacket Wasp
Next up on our list of Most Painful Stings in the world, we have a predatory wasp species, the Western Yellow Jacket. Described as hot and smoky, almost like extinguishing a burning cigar on the skin, the sting of this wasp species has a rating of 2 in the Pain Index.
The pain may last for nearly 10 minutes or more. Western Yellow Jackets are almost 14 mm long, with the Queens being slightly larger.
Scientific name- Vespula pensylvanica
Location- native to North America
9) Fire Ant
When on a trip to a rainforest, it’s not the wild animals that you must be afraid of. Instead, it’s these tiny arthropods, the fire ants, which can bring you to your deathbed. They have a venom-injecting sting coupled with strong mandibles that can deliver a powerful bite.
Fire ant’s bite may cause redness and itching in the area, which at times might lead to severe allergic reactions like chest pain, and nausea, which can be fatal if left untreated.
Scientific name- Solenopsis sp.
Location- Widespread, in almost all major continents
8) Asian Honey Bee
The Asian Honey Bee is one of the most common bees found in South Asia. These bees generally are 10-11 mm in length. The Asian Honey Bee is known for its painful sting, which has a rating of 2 on the Schmidt’s Pain Index. The sting causes pain, itching, and swelling in the area that may persist for a couple of hours.
Scientific name- Apis cerana
Location- native to South, East, and Southeast Asia
7) Maricopa Harvester Ant
Now we have an insect whose venom is the most toxic venom among all insects in the world, the Maricopa Harvester Ant. Schmidt rates the pain of this insect at three and may last for a couple of hours. The bite of a Maricopa Harvester Ant is not only immensely painful but also highly toxic. These ants hold the prey by their mandibles and continue to sting 12 times which can easily kill a 2 kg rat.
Scientific name- Pogonomyrmex Maricopa
Location- North American states of California, Colorado, Arizona, etc.
6) Metricus Paper Wasp
On the 6th position, with Schmidt’s Pain Index of 3, we have the Metricus Paper Wasp. You can identify this insect with its characteristic black abdomen and reddish-brown thorax region. It’s a large wasp species, with an average body length of 20- 35 mm (0.78-1.37 in). The pain of its sting is highly painful and may last up to 3-4 minutes.
Scientific name- Polistes metricus
Location- native to North America
5) Red Paper Wasp
Next up on our list of Most Painful Stings in the world we have the sting of the red Paper Wasp. With a Schmidt’s Pain Index of 3, the pain is comparable to a drop of superheated oil on the arm. This wasp species gets its name from its rust-colored body. The Red Paper Wasp belongs to the category of large wasps and has a wing length of nearly 18-24 mm.
Scientific name- Polistes carolina
Location- Eastern United States
4) Red Velvet Ant
Often confused with ants, the name Velvet Ant is a misnomer in the biological world. Known for its highly painful sting, which has a rating of 3 in the Schmidt’s Pain Index, the Velvet Ants are wasps. The females of this species are considered more dangerous for their sting, thereby giving this species its nickname, Cow killer. They get their name from the dense velvet-like hair that covers their body.
Scientific name- Dasymutilla occidentalis
Location- North America
3) Warrior Wasp
Now, it’s time to step into the Schmidt’s Pain Index of 4, with the Warrior Wasp occupying the third position in our list of Most Painful Stings in the world. Schmidt describes the sting of a Warrior Wasp as torturous as if tied to the opening of an active volcano.
These wasps are medium-sized wasps with an average body length of nearly 0.80 in and are often dark in color. In case of a Warrior Wasp sting, make sure you get immediate medical attention. The pain may last for as long as 2 hours.
Scientific name- Synoeca cyanae
Location- North and Central America, Northern South America, Mexico
2) Tarantula Hawk Wasp
A large wasp genus with an immensely painful sting has given a Pain Index Rating of 4. The Tarantula Hawk is nearly 2 in (5 cm) in length and gets its name from its Tarantula hunting skills.
Schmidt describes the pain to be blinding and electrifying, thereby making it the second most painful sting in the world. Though the pain is immense, the sting of a Warrior wasp is not life-threatening. The pain may last for 5-10 minutes.
Scientific name- Hemipepsis sp.
Location- Worldwide in the tropical areas
1) Bullet Ant
Bullet Ants possess the most painful sting in the world and are comparable to walking over burning charcoal with a nail inserted into the heel. These ants are nearly 0.7-1.2 in long and are predatory.
The sting has a 4.0+ rating on the Schmidt’s Pain Index and is neurotoxic, containing the peptide, Poneratoxin capable of ceasing nerve impulse transmission in the body.
Scientific name- Paraponera clavata
Location- Central and South American Rainforests
Here, we conclude our list of the Top 15 Most Painful Stings in the world. We intend to bring more of such informative write-ups shortly. We will be back with new post. So, until then, stay tuned.
Monty is a founder of How It See. Being a life science student in a reputed university, he always wonders about an eclectic correlation between science and nature. After engaging in various college projects, Monty determined to share all his knowledge with you as a writer. In the meantime, he loves to research and study about the various types of colorful animals.