Warrior wasps: Small insects with world's most painful sting

Warrior wasps, also referred to as marching wasps or soldier wasps have one of the world's most powerful stings, equal on the pain scale to bullet ants and tarantula hawk wasps. They are very unique insects that get their name from the way they defend their nest. The nest is built with chewed fiber and saliva that form a tough paper. There is often only one entrance to the nest and workers inside create combs and passages, as well as feed the larvae and the queen. The soldiers, or warriors guard the nest from the outside. They are especially sensitive to loud sounds and unusual vibrations. If the warriors perceive a threat, they begin to beat their wings in unison to produce a loud sound that warns the threat of impending attack. It is identical to the sound of hundreds of soldiers marching. They release pheromones that also signal the wasps inside the nest to come out and take part in the demonstration. Because they have barbed stingers, attacking and stinging means death for the wasp. It is in the best interests of all involved if the sound is sufficient deterrent. Ana, a skilled Naturalist Guide from Sacha Lodge, located just off the Napo River in the Amazon forest in Ecuador, led a tour down a small canal, stopping along the way to demonstrate how these wasps use their abilities to protect themselves. She provided an explanation and a warning that tour guests were to make one loud sound in unison and then remain quiet. When asked later if she had ever seen the wasps attack, she said with a serious look that nobody had ever dared to make further noise. Wisely, people are advised to not test the wasps. The pain of the stings has been described as feeling like you are chained in the lava flow of an active volcano. Scientists also commented that an individual will sound insane as they scream from the pain. As with many types of venom, researchers in Brazil have recently discovered that the compounds found in the sting may have a beneficial effect on people. It may be used to treat people suffering from anxiety. Warrior wasps can be found throughout the Amazon as well as Mexico, Central America and the northern areas of South America such as Brazil. These small but mighty creatures are a perfect example of the wonders of nature. Even a creature thousands of times their size would be no match for such well equipped warriors.