a paper wasp tending its nest

I am cohabiting with a wasps’ nest. It’s pretty much live-and-let-live with the wasps and me. They build a nest in one corner or another of my porch every summer, and no, I’m not going to blast them, and me, with deadly toxins when they’ve never shown the least interest in my comings and goings.

Yeah, yeah, “famous dernier mots” as my sister and I are wont to say. Anyway, guess what? Yes, I wrote about paper wasps.

In so doing, I had the opportunity to learn about University of Arizona entomologist Justin O. Schmidt and his “Schmidt Sting Pain Index,” which poetically quantifies–apparently in many cases based on person experience — the pain delivered by various kinds of stinging creatures.

>> Weighing in at an attention-commanding 3, the sting of the paper wasp, according to Schmidt, is “caustic and burning, with a distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.” And because you want to know: the most painful wasp sting on the scale—a 4, and second only to the excruciating sting of the bullet ant—is that of the terrifyingly large tarantula hawk wasp. “Blinding, shockingly electric,” according to Schmidt, who says it feels like “a running hair dryer has been dropped into your bubble bath.” <<


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