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In 1909, the entomologist Carlo Emery noted that social parasites among insects (e.g., cleptoparasites) tend to be parasites of species or genera to which they are closely related.[1][2] Over the years, this pattern has been recognized in many additional cases, and generalized to what is now known as Emery's Rule.[1] The pattern is best known for various taxa of Hymenoptera.

The significance and general relevance of this pattern is still a matter of some debate, as a great many exceptions exist, though a common explanation for the phenomenon when it occurs is that the parasites may have started as facultative parasites within the host species itself (such forms of intraspecific parasitism are well-known, even in some subspecies of honeybees[3] ), but later became reproductively isolated and split off from the ancestral species, a form of sympatric speciation.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Richard Deslippe (2010). Social Parasitism in Ants. Nature Education Knowledge. URL accessed on 2010-10-29.
  2. Emery, C. Über den Ursprung der dulotischen, parasitischen und myrmekophilen Ameisen. Biologisches Centralblatt 29, 352-362 (1909)
  3. Wenseleers, Tom Intraspecific queen parasitism in highly eusocial bee. Biology Letters. Royal Society Publishing. URL accessed on 9 July 2011.

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