Canadian journal of zoology-revue canadienne de zoologie vol:75 issue:7 pages:1014-1019
Spider wasps, i.e., the family Pompilidae, in general, and those belonging to the genus Pepsis in particular, are acknowledged to possess venoms that are algogenic to humans and thus have the parsimonious functions of causing paralysis and providing defense against predators. The morphological organization of the venom system and its complex convoluted gland closely resembles that in social members of the Vespidae. These features distinguish the venom glands of the Pompilidae from those of the sibling family Mutillidae as well as those of the family Sphecidae, which lack convoluted glands. Although the venom glands in Pepsis species are very similar in morphology to those of social vespids, the lethality of Pepsis venom to mammals is several times less than that of the social common wasps. These findings suggest that in terms of the evolution of venom activity and the associated glandular structures, there was apparently no need for social wasps to develop extra parts of the venom system for producing toxic, lethal, or powerful algogenic components. All of the glandular parts of the venom gland of social wasps were already present in pompilids (and eumenids) and, presumably, in their ancestors.