Sign-in to Account
Call Us

(855) 948-5816

aptive-registered-logo-white

Find Service Area

What Insect Stings Hurt The Most?

Written by Aptive Environmental July 11, 2022

Stinging insects are the worst. While you likely remember being stung by a bee or bit by a fire ant, you might be surprised to hear that these insects are on the lower end of the insect sting pain scale. In this article we’ll explore which insects have the most painful stings in the world, backed by research.

Since pain is relative, how can we determine the most painful sting? Years ago, an entomologist named Justin Schmidt set out to solve this problem by creating the Schmidt Sting Pain Index based on his extensive research. He has been stung by hundreds of species over his career. His index is based on four levels, from least painful to most painful. Aside from this, he describes each sting in great detail to help show how much it truly hurts.

Insects With the Most Painful Sting (From Least to Most)

Southern Fire Ants

Fire Ants are fairly low on the pain scale (level one), but this only considers one fire ant bite. Oftentimes, people will stumble upon a nest and anger multiple fire ants, which multiplies the pain when they all decide to sting you. This is why some people believe fire ants have the most painful sting!

Bald-Faced Hornet

These large, aggressive hornets are found throughout the United States and other parts of North America. They will sting if their nest area is invaded, and can even spray venom into their victims’ eyes. It was rated a pain level two.

Yellow Jacket Wasp

You might not have recognized the previous insects, but you likely have seen Yellow Jackets flying around your home in summertime. Perhaps you’ve even been stung by one! Although their sting is definitely painful, Schmidt rated it as a level two on his scale. Most other bees, wasps, and ants are in the level two category of pain.

Red Harvester Ant

Typically only found in New Mexico and Arizona, these ants are rated a three on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Their sting can inflame your nerves for hours and is pretty painful. They’re often confused with fire ants due to their physical similarities, but the two aren’t related.

Paper Wasp

This common species of wasp often pop up under porch areas during summertime. Their sting is painful (rated a three), but luckily, it starts to fade after about 15 minutes.

Tarantula Hawk

The Tarantula Hawk is rated a level four on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. This species is a large spider wasp that preys on Tarantulas. Eighteen species of Tarantula Hawks can be found in the United States (primarily in the deserts and Southwestern states), as well as throughout other areas of the world. There are 250 species in South America.

Bullet Ant

Schmidt rated the Bullet Ant at the very top of his list. This ant lives in the South American rainforest and delivers an intense, venomous sting. The immediate pain lasts anywhere from 12–24 hours in full force. Luckily, you won’t find this type of ant hiding in your backyard.

Executioner Wasp

This newly discovered wasp was likely named after its sting. Since it was a new species that hadn’t been analyzed by Justin Schmidt, a wildlife expert named Coyote Peterson followed in Schmidt’s footsteps to seek out the species. He was stung by it and described it as far worse than the Bullet Ant. Not only was it excruciatingly painful, it burned a hole in his arm – no insect had done that to him before. This wasp is located in Central America and South America.

Besides these there are other insect stings around the globe. In regions such as Asia, the Asian giant hornet sting pain index also shows a high level of intensity, causing extremely painful reactions. Meanwhile, the velvet ant sting pain index, alongside the executioner wasp sting index, highlights some of North America’s most daunting insect encounters. These insects deliver stings that go beyond mere pain, often resulting in significant physiological reactions.

Have a Stinging Insect Problem?

Regular insect infestations are terrible enough, but dealing with stinging or biting insects induces another level of frustration. Although yellow jackets or bumblebees may not be the most painful on the insect sting pain index, they definitely hurt. If you have a problem with stinging insects in your home (or around your home), Aptive Environmental can help you get rid of them! Our professional, effective pest control solutions ensure the insect problem is gone for good. We’re so confident in our services that, if the pest comes back, we will come back too – at no additional cost!

Curated articles for you, from our pest experts.

Close-Up Of A Black Ant On A Green Leaf With Water Droplets.

Pest Control: The Lifecycle of Pests

Pests are a nuisance to homeowners, and can cause a lot of damage to property, as well as health risks to humans and pets. To effectively control pests, it is important to understand their lifecycle and behavior. In this article, we will explore the lifecycle of...

Feb 17, 2023
A Variety Of Pumpkins And Gourds In Different Shapes, Sizes, And Colors Are Arranged On The Steps Of A Front Porch. The Steps Are Terracotta-Colored, And The Porch Is Flanked By Green Leafy Plants.

How to Keep Pumpkins from Rotting

Nothing says fall like newly-picked pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. These festive vegetables provide the perfect front door decor and after-school activity for kids. Unfortunately for homeowners, though, carved pumpkins will often last between just one to two weeks...

May 8, 2024
An Aptive Pest Control Specialist Waves To Two Children From Outside A House Window, With An Aptive Van Parked In The Background. The Children Are Sitting At A Table Inside, One Waving Back While The Other Is Drawing.

3 Reasons Why You Should Have Pest Control

It’s easy to recognize the need for pest control when we find a wasp nest next to the front door, or when a roach scuttles across the kitchen floor, but some issues may not be as visible. Sometimes a single ant on a countertop or a tick crawling up a pant leg can...

Feb 20, 2024
A Close-Up Of Two Mating Black And Orange Lovebugs On A Green Plant With Small White Flowers, Set Against A Blurred Green Background.

Lovebugs: Facts, Identification, and How to Treat Them

Lovebugs: these small insects may seem harmless, but they can quickly become a nuisance in the southeastern United States. With their unique mating behavior and rapid reproduction, lovebugs can swarm in large numbers during certain times of the year. But what...

Feb 12, 2024
A Close-Up Of A Norway Rat Eating Food Scraps From A Dirty Plate In A Cluttered Kitchen Sink.

The Rodent Riddle: A Guide to Rat Control and Identification

In the corners of homes and urban landscapes, rats lurk as stealthy intruders, capable of causing damage and spreading disease. Recognizing the signs of a rat infestation and understanding effective control measures are crucial for maintaining a more pest protected...

Feb 5, 2024
A Close-Up Of A Deer Mouse Sitting On Green Moss With A Blurred Leafy Background.

How to Treat Mice in the Home

Mice, those elusive yet troublesome creatures, have a knack for infiltrating our living spaces and turning a minor annoyance into a full-blown infestation. Understanding their characteristics and behavior is pivotal in effectively controlling these invaders....

Jan 29, 2024
Close-Up Of A Yellow Jacket Wasp With A Black Body And Yellow Markings, Perched On A Small, Gray, Hexagonal Paper Nest.

Understanding and Controlling Paper Wasps

In the intricate tapestry of nature, paper wasps play a crucial role, contributing to the balance of ecosystems by preying on various pests. However, when these buzzing architects decide to build their intricate nests in and around our homes, they can quickly turn from fascinating insects to potential pests.

Jan 8, 2024
A Cozy Living Room Interior With A Light Beige Sofa Adorned With Various Pillows, A Wooden Coffee Table With Decorative Vases, And Large Windows Showcasing A Snowy Outdoor Scene With Trees Covered In Snow.

Why You Need Pest Control in the Winter

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRp9paEHIWs As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, many people tend to believe that pests die off during winter. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. In fact, winter can be a time of heightened pest movement as...

Dec 4, 2023
A Heat Map Of The United States Showing Pest Activity Levels Across Various Regions From March 10, 2021, To April 28, 2021, With Higher Activity Indicated By Brighter Colors.

Data, Patterns, and Pest Control

As a leading pest control provider, Aptive service professionals encounter all kinds of pest activity across the country. Our ability to monitor this pest activity has provided valuable insights into understanding the prevalence of specific pest types at different...

Aug 1, 2023
How To Pest-Proof Your Garbage Cans

How to Pest-Proof Your Garbage Cans

Depending on where you live, you may be familiar with managing pest-ridden garbage cans. What many city-dwellers and suburbians don’t realize though, is how easy it is for their own trash cans to become home to opportunistic pests. Allowing bugs to live in your...

Oct 20, 2022

Take back your home with pest control today.