September 17, 2013
What It Feels Like to be Bitten by a Black Widow Spider

In 1983, the entomologist Justin Schmidt published the results of a uniquely unenviable project: He had created a scale that attempted to quantify the pain inflicted by various forms of insect bites and stings. Some stings cause no pain in humans, thus meriting a 0 on Schmidt’s scale; insects such as bees and wasps — which inflict a wound that is definitely painful, but not excruciating — warrant a 2 on the scale. A 4 was reserved for bites that are, indeed, excruciating. The unenviable part was this: To create his scale, Schmidt used himself as a guinea pig. He let himself get bitten by various insects, and then recorded the results. Rather poetically, in some cases. 
Schmidt’s work was an attempt to bring description to the almost indescribable pain of some insect bites; a story in the New York Times, however, both adds to that project and flips it around. It’s all about subjectivity. Jackson Landers, who is a hunter and activist as well as a writer — and a guy who has had crossings with bears, lionfish, and other contextually terrifying creatures — was, this spring, bitten by a black widow that had set up a nest in his shoe. Being a writer, Landers wrote about the experience. In uniquely unenviable detail.
Read more.

What It Feels Like to be Bitten by a Black Widow Spider

In 1983, the entomologist Justin Schmidt published the results of a uniquely unenviable project: He had created a scale that attempted to quantify the pain inflicted by various forms of insect bites and stings. Some stings cause no pain in humans, thus meriting a 0 on Schmidt’s scale; insects such as bees and wasps — which inflict a wound that is definitely painful, but not excruciating — warrant a 2 on the scale. A 4 was reserved for bites that are, indeed, excruciating. The unenviable part was this: To create his scale, Schmidt used himself as a guinea pig. He let himself get bitten by various insects, and then recorded the results. Rather poetically, in some cases. 

Schmidt’s work was an attempt to bring description to the almost indescribable pain of some insect bites; a story in the New York Times, however, both adds to that project and flips it around. It’s all about subjectivity. Jackson Landers, who is a hunter and activist as well as a writer — and a guy who has had crossings with bears, lionfish, and other contextually terrifying creatures — was, this spring, bitten by a black widow that had set up a nest in his shoe. Being a writer, Landers wrote about the experience. In uniquely unenviable detail.

Read more.

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