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A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power, often but not always in a monarchy. This may include a person who succeeds in establishing himself as a monarch without inheriting the throne or any other person exercising authority unconstitutionally. A person who takes the power of the country for himself or herself at the expense of the people. It may also be applied to an official acting ultra vires, outside his authority or jurisdiction.


Usurpation is a term used in biology to describe the phenomenon that occurs when a colony of eusocial insects is taken over by a queen of a different species, such as a cuckoo bumblebee (Psithyrus) or brood-parasitic paper wasp (e.g., Polistes sulcifer).[1]

Another eusocial species of wasp that is known for usurping is Metapolybia cingulata. Regardless of their size, it is very common to observe queens taking over other M. cingulata colonies, however it has also been noted that if the two colonies are similar enough, the exchange of workers or queens will be smoother because they are slightly related to each so that it is not entirely a loss to be taken over by another queen.[2]


  1. Cervo R, Macinai V, Dechigi F, Turillazzi S. (2004). “Fast growth of immature brood in a social parasite wasp: a convergent evolution between avian and insect cuckoos”. American Naturalist 164 (6): 814–820. doi: 10.1086/425987.
  2. Lua error in Module:Citation/CS1/Identifiers at line 47: attempt to index field 'wikibase' (a nil value).

See also