The Tarantula Hawk’s Sting

I know it may be a bit of a controversial position but I hate getting stung by insects. Even mosquitoes freak me out (although I think that one may have more to do with the primal fear of being eaten alive than the pain). If you live out in the country you’ll quickly find that bees, wasps, hornets, and even horsefly’s are unavoidable. Getting stung is something you can try to escape but ultimately, it’s going to happen. Some people learn to take this fatalism in stride, others refuse to accept it. I’ve seen people absolutely lose their minds when confronted with even a, relatively, harmless bumblebee, so ingrained is this fear. I believe there is value in learning to overcome the fear of pain and move beyond its power to control you. Often times the fear is worse than the reality. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Take the Tarantula hawk for example.

The Tarantula hawk is a massive spider-wasp that actually hunts tarantulas. I’ll let that sink in for a moment. This horrifying monster is actually pretty docile most of the time but will sting if provoked. Although the sting isn’t particularity dangerous (no more so than that of other bees, hornets, and wasps) it’s excruciatingly painful. In fact, its sting is considered the second most painful sting in the insect kingdom. It’s right near the top of the  Schmidt sting pain index, just under the Bullet Ant. So intense is this pain that many people lose all control and can do nothing but scream while it lasts. Fortunately, it usually fades after a few minutes. You’d think these things would be universally hated but in 1989 New Mexico actually made them their official state insect.

To get some idea of what the Tarantula hawk’s sting is like check out this video of a madman getting stung ON PURPOSE just to experience it for himself. Fair warning, it gets a little intense.


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