• Travel Warnings

World's Most Painful Insect Bites

Next time you’re out hiking, avoid these insects at all costs.

Paper Wasp

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The Frank Gehry of the insect world, these inch-long wasps create magnificent curvy, detailed nests from wood fiber and saliva and, for the most part, are very placid. It pays to not get too close, though. According to the Schmidt Pain Index (on which the paper wasp scores a robust 3 out of 4), the sting is “caustic and burning with a distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.”

Where They’re Found: There are more than 1,000 species of paper wasp all over the globe, with more than 20 found in North America.

How to Avoid Them: Head south. The only continent free of paper wasps is Antarctica.

World's Most Painful Insect Bites

Paper Wasp

The Frank Gehry of the insect world, these inch-long wasps create magnificent curvy, detailed nests from wood fiber and saliva and, for the most part, are very placid. It pays to not get too close, though. According to the Schmidt Pain Index (on which the paper wasp scores a robust 3 out of 4), the sting is “caustic and burning with a distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.”

Where They’re Found: There are more than 1,000 species of paper wasp all over the globe, with more than 20 found in North America.

How to Avoid Them: Head south. The only continent free of paper wasps is Antarctica.

Roy Niswanger
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