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When you ask what is the sting, do you mean the ‘lance’ through which the venom is injected or the venom itself?
The lance is a modified ovipositor – the tube through which eggs would normally be passed:
‘The stinging mechanism has evolved from the ovipositor which, although used by many other insects for egg-laying, is now redundant for this function in the wasp.’
‘The exact composition of wasp (and bee) venom is not known. It is a complicated chemical cocktail which contains enzymes and proteins as well as other things.’
This book states that the venom is composed of a mixture of histamines – principally histamine, tyramine, dopamine, epinephrine etc:
The following passage describes how the venom is injected into the victim:
‘…the shaft is thrust into the victim and the lancets move rapidly backwards and forwards (sliding along the stylet) in a sawing action. The lancets are barbed - that is, they have small backward-pointed hooks along their edges. As the shaft penetrates further into the victim's body, the barbs allow anchorage against the flesh until the alternate lancet moves forward and 'claws' the shaft deeper into the wound. The movement of the lancets also enables a pumping action to take place at the abdomen end of the shaft. This causes the poison sac to pump venom down through a central poison canal, between the lancets and out through the shaft tip into the wound.’
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