Infographic ranks the pain of stinging insects, from "spicy" to "satanic"

Justin O. Schmidt, the legendary entomologist affectionately known as the "King of Sting," died in February at the age of 75, his exit ticket punched not by the venomous critters he so loved to study, but by the complications of Parkinson's disease. Schmidt was an intrepid psychonaut of pain, exploring the far reaches of his nervous system with a ravenous curiosity and a audacious spirit. He willingly offered up his own flesh as a canvas upon which to paint visceral portraits of the sensations delivered by these winged syringes of neurotoxic peptides. A few examples of his evocative descriptions include:

  • "Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a power drill to excavate your ingrown toenail." (Florida Harvester Ant)
  • "Rude, insulting. An ember from your campfire is glued to your forearm." (Nocturnal Hornet)
  • A ritual gone wrong, Satanic. The gas lamp in the old church explodes in your face when you light it."(Fierce Black Polybia Wasp)
  • "Pure, then messy, then corrosive. Love and marriage followed by divorce. (Artistic Wasp)"

Atlas Obscura created a mesmerizing infographic featuring 30 insect bite reviews, reading like a venom sommelier's guide to the darkly seductive interplay of pain and intrigue, a testament to Schmidt's uncanny ability to transmute the agony of insect stings into an intoxicating blend of morbid fascination and lyrical poetry.