Schmidt sting pain index and rituals

Exhibition “ANTS”
Exhibition “ANTS”

Schmidt sting pain index

The index shows the relative pain experienced as a result of stings on a scale from one (least painful) to four (most painful). Species found in Latvia fall in the first category, such as red ants, or the second category, such as honey bees Apis mellifera and wasps.

  • Bullet Ant Paraponera clavata
  • Bull Ant Myrmecia pyriformis
  • Honey Bee Apis mellifera
  • Common Red Ant Myrmica rubra

The excruciating ritual

The Sateré-Mave indigenous people, an Indian tribe living in Amazonia, use the Bullet Ant Paraponera clavata in the initiation ritual of young men. Dozens of sedated ants are stuck inside special gloves woven from plant parts with their stings on the inside. When the ants wake up, the initiates are made to put on the gloves. During the ritual dance, the person must endure ant stings, which are among the most painful according to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index, for 5–10 minutes. The ritual must be performed 20 times.

  • Reproduction of the ritual glove.