“Stay away, don't mess with me” is a suggested ad from a stinging insect to its predators.

If ever you were stung by a bee and offered the chance to perform a scientific analysis of the pain intensity produced by a variety of stinging insects, would you accept the challenge? Like me, most would probably not be interested. But entomologist Justin O. Schmidt carried out such a study on 83 species of ants, bees, and wasps, resulting in his “Pain Scale for Stinging Insects,” which rates the pain of each sting on a scale of 1 to 4. Each pain also has a brief description, using humor to compare the pain to other unpleasant experiences: “Someone has fired a staple into your cheek” (bullhorn acacia ant); “Your fingertip has been slammed by a car door” (California carpenter bee); and “You know what cattle feel when they are branded” (golden paper...

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