We did our “design launch” yesterday for a somewhat technical but always delightfully written (and sometimes even funny) book on those underappreciated garden insects: Bees, Wasps, and Ants: The Indispensable Role of Hymenoptera in Gardens. Believe me, you can’t really understand what’s going on in your garden without this book.
The most interesting thing I learned today is the existence of the “Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index” for bee/wasp/etc. stings. It’s rather entertaining reading, and a not-so-gentle remembrance of stings past. This may not be news to everyone—there is a lengthy Wikpedia article here, but I love the idea that you can now put a number to your level of agony. Kind of like the Sleep Number bed.
The Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index (Schmidt 1990)
1.0, Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
1.2, Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet and reaching for the light switch.
1.8, Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
2.0, Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
2.0, Yellow jacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
2.0, Honey bee and European hornet: Like a match-head that flips off and burns on your skin.
3.0, Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
3.0, Paper wasp: Caustic and burning, distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
4.0, Pepsis wasp (spider wasp): Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
4.0+, Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like fire-walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch rusty nail in your heel.