Genus Pepsis


This lovely and impressive genus is mostly a western group. East of the Mississippi river likely the only member to be found is Pepsis elegans which is a lovely blue iridescent thing with dark wings and orange antennae. This excludes Florida which has two other species which seem to spill over from the West Indies. In the river bordering states of AR and MO likely we can add P. grossa and P. chrysothemis. Anything else will be a record. All species apparently take only Tarantula spiders for prey.

This key was modified from Banks 1921 key. (Thanks to Jeff Barnes at the UAMS Arthropod museum for sending this key.) Some details added from the giant Vardy revision or 2000. It does not include, Pepsis azteca of south Texas and Pepsis saphirus.

 


 

1 Wings black, or mostly so; not yellow or reddish

 

2

 

1 Wings largely yellowish or reddish

 

 

5


 

 

2 Antennae yellowish or orange

 

elegans Lepeletier 1845

(PA and KS south to FL and TX)

 

2 Antennae black

 

 

3


 

 

3 Apical third of wings whitish hyaline

 

venusta Smith 1855

(AZ)

 

3 Only a narrow apical margin hyaline

 

4


 

 

4 Apical margin of the hind wings not hyaline in the female; with front femora hairy beneath; male with the subgenital plate elongate and long-haired

 

 

grossa Fabricius 1798

(MO TX to KS west to AZ NV)

(variation in the wings of grossa is regional with generally only the orange-winged form spilling into the east from the central Texas border region)

 

4 Apical margin of hind wings narrowly hyaline in the female; front femora barely, if at all, hairy beneath; male with subgenital plate short, and with a transverse carina, not noticeably hairy

 

mexicana Lucas 1894

(TX, Davis Mts.)


 

 

5 Antennae with several joints yellowish or reddish

 

6

 

5 Antennae wholly black

 

 

7


 

 

6 Apex of wings broadly dark banded; male without apical fringe on the fifth ventral segment

 

cerberus Lucas 1894

(KS TX AZ)

 

6 Apex of wings narrowly banded with dark; male with apical fringe to the fifth ventral segment

 

mildei Stal 1857

(TX to KS west to CA)

 

6' Apex of wings banded; male with hairs on fifth and sixth sternites; anterior femur of female with abundant coarse hair

aquila Lucas 1895

(AZ NM)


 

 

7 Males

 

8

 

7 Females

 

15


 

 

8  Subgenital plate elongate, more or less hairy, without a median tooth or a transverse ridge

 

9

 

8 Subgenital plate shorter, with median and apical transverse carinae, the median one curves at ends, the apical one tooth-like at each end; no ventral hair brushes

 

chrysothemis Lucas 1894

(TX to OK west to CA)

 

8'  Subgenital plate with a median tooth and an apical or subapical transverse ridge; no ventral hair-brushes

13


 

 

9 No ventral hair brushes

 

10

 

9 Ventral hair-brushes present toward the tip of the abdomen

 

 

11


 

 

10 Subgenital plate slender, densely hairy, wing tips hyaline

 

grossa Fabricius 1798

(MO TX to KS west to AZ NV)

 

10 Subgenital plate broad, emarginate at tip, scarcely hairy, wing tips broadly dark

 

arizonica Banks 1921

(TX AZ CA)


 

 

11 Fourth ventral segment with oblique hair-row or tuft

 

12

 

11 Fourth and fifth ventral segments with hair-tufts; extreme tip of antennae reddish

 

mildei Stal 1857

(TX to KS west to CA)

 


 

 

12 Subgenital plate more than three times as long as broad

 

angustimarginata Viereck 1908

(TX to KS west to southern CA)

 

12 Subgenital plate about twice as long as broad

 

cerberus Lucas 1894

(KS TX AZ)

 


 

 

13 Wings not darkened near tip, usually with a greyish border that is continued on the apical and posterior edges of hindwing; outside of CA this species has a pale, sandy-yellow wing color; smaller species 17-31 mm

 

pallidolimbata Lucas 1894

(TX to KS west to southern CA)

 

13 Wings plainly darkened before tip

 

14


 

 

14 Wings reddish, usually bright orange-red

 

chrysothemis Lucas 1894

(TX to OK west to CA)

 

 

14 Wings yellowish

 

grossa Fabricius 1798

(AR MO TX to KS west to AZ NV)

 


 

 

15 Front femora with long hair beneath; very large species with a preapical dark band of the forewings broad and extending basally into the third cubital cell

 

grossa Fabricius 1798

(AR MO TX to KS west to AZ NV)

 

15' Front femora of female with long hair; smaller species and normally some detectable orange or red in the antenna

 

aquila Lucas 1895

(AZ NM)

 

thisbe Lucas 1895

(Will key here though antennae always black,

has strongly swollen vertex, quadrate head, 25-42 mm females)

(SW border states and ranging NE towards OK AR)

 

 

15' Front femora with few if any hairs beneath

 

16


 

 

16 The hind tibia have the bristles among the spines much longer than the spines and curved; no distinct transverse ridge on metanotum separating upper and posterior surfaces

 

cerberus Lucas 1894

(KS TX AZ)

 

 

 

16 The hind tibia with bristles straight and not longer than the spines; metanotum with a distinct ridge separating the upper and posterior faces

 

17


 

 

17 The posterior part of the pronotum very plainly hairy above

 

18

 

17 Posterior part of the pronotum not hairy or scarcely so

 

20


 

 

18 Wings reddish, extreme tip pale; posterior face of metanotum striate across

 

chrysothemis Lucas 1894

(TX to OK west to CA)

 

 

18 Tips of wings wholly dark

 

19


 

 

19 Extreme tip of antennae reddish; tip of wing broadly dark; posterior face of metanotum not striate in middle

 

mildei Stal 1857

(TX to KS west to CA)

 

 

19 Extreme tip of antennae black; tip of wing narrowly dark; posterior face of metanotum striate in middle

 

angustimarginata Viereck 1908

(TX to KS west to southern CA)

 


 

 

20 Wings without distinct preapical dark band; posterior face of metanotum striate across

 

pallidolimbata Lucas 1894

(TX to KS west to southern CA)

 

 

20 Wings with apical or preapical dark band

 

21


 

 

21 Apical dark band to wings

 

chrysothemis lucasii Fox 1898

(TX)

 

21 Preapical dark band, extreme tip pale; posterior face of metanotum striate across

 

grossa Fabricius 1798

(AR MO TX to KS west to AZ NV)

 

21 Broad dark border to wings; body with only weak blue-violet sheen

 

marginata Palisot de Beauvois 1809

(FL only, from the West Indies)


 

Key Main