Adventurer and wildlife enthusiast Coyote Peterson is on a quest to endure the worst insect stings on the planet. Before he gets to the most painful sting though — the bullet ant — Peterson has to brave the penultimate poisoner in the video above.
The tarantula hawk wasp is a beautiful, giant wasp that turns tarantulas into zombies for their young to burrow into and eventually emerge from. Their reproduction alone is terrifying, but the wasps, which can grow to the size of your hand, are infamous for their incredible sting. Entomologist Justin Schmidt of the University of Arizona describes the sting of the wasps as “blinding, fierce, and shockingly electric.” The pain is reportedly second only to the appropriately named bullet ant, whose sting literally feels like getting shot.
When Peterson forces the wasp to sting him, you can see that “fierce” pain immediately take hold. His forearm is paralyzed while waves of brilliantly hot pain crash across the rest of his body. The feeling is intense, but fleeting. In just five minutes, Peterson is ready to finish the video, with only a swollen arm as evidence to what he went through.
I can’t say I agree with Peterson’s videos. I believe forcing animals, like hawk wasps or snapping turtles, to sting or bite you just for YouTube views is exploitative and unnecessarily stressful for the animals. However, I can’t look away. Sting or bite pain is something we are only told about, so to see someone experience the worst the animal kingdom has to offer is at least informative.
Tarantula hawk wasps are nectarvorious, meaning that they are usually buzzing about flowers looking for nectar, not a fight. The insect are actually quite docile, and if you don’t grab them and shove them against your arm, you shouldn’t be worried encountering one in the wild. Unless you’re a tarantula. Or Coyote Peterson.