Not so much is known of the warrior wasps. But there is enough to know that they have one of the worst stings you can ever hope to endure. If you have ever inadvertently walked into what is known as a vespine wasps nest and got stung by even one wasp, then you know this things can really mess up your day.
The sting of a vespine wasp will fell like a day at the spa compared to the sting of a warrior wasp. The brutal sting of a warriors wasp is something special and in a class of it’s own. For reference and context, take the pain of being stung by a vespine wasp and compound that several times over. We shall revisit in more horrid detail the pain of the warrior wasp sting in a bit.
The Swarm-founding warrior wasps have particularly pricked the curiosity of ecological scientists because studies show that some of their colonies contain multiple queens as opposed to the single queen as often found with Vespine wasps nests.
Scientists also mention that although the species has a caste system, one can barely tell the workers and the Queen’s apart as they are morphologically identical or in other terms look very similar to one another.
Incase you are wondering what the warrior wasps look like, they have a distinctive blackish or dark blue metallic-like appearance. While species like vespine wasps may be feared, warrior wasps are revered by the local people in various geographies due to their defensive display which is both intimidating and unsettling. It involves drumming on the nest surface before a full scale stinging attack ensues.
Warrior wasps are from the genus Synoeca are commonly found in South and Central America, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Their nest often not overly hidden and is made on the face of a tree trunk underside of major branches or constructed on the face of a rock. They are relatively easy to find and fairly common throughout their range.
The nest is built as a single comb and resembles an armadillo. The outer surface is ribbed with lines running across the hive from side to side.
Colonies consist of anything from 50 to 500 warrior wasps and have an average lifespan of 16 years. Every so often a queen will fly off accompanied with a few workers to start a new colony elsewhere. In the event that a queen dies, she will be swiftly replaced by another.
Warrior wasps sting
When the hive is threatened, the warrior wasps will beat their wings simultaneously producing a drumming sound to deter an intruder. Hence the nickname ‘drumming wasp’ the drumming will continue and grows louder as the hundreds of warrior wasps begin to emerge from the hives envelope. The sound is menacing and the sight brings of terror about to unfold. Only if this striking display at intimidation fails to deter the intruder will the warrior wasps strike in droves as an absolute last resort.
Warrior wasps die after stinging once and perhaps explains why the elaborate drumming in hope of not having to engage. On the Schmidt sting pain index, a warrior wasp sting has been given a pain rating of 4. Schmidt describes the pain as ‘torture’ and not far from being chain to the floor of an active volcano’
For context, on the same pain index, red ants have a rating of 1.
The only other bug that has a rating of 4 on that index is the bullet ant. Not so much because the pain of a bullets ant supersedes that of a warrior wasp, although it does comes close, but simply because it lasts for a continuous 24 hours. While a warrior’s sting is much more painful than a bullet ant, the agony passes quicker.
If you happen on a warrior wasps’ hive, it’s most advised to back away and find another route before your day becomes really, really bad.