Forensic Entomology

Entomology is the study of insects, and when that field of study is related to, used in, or connected with a court of law, it becomes forensic entomology.

Some of the more common applications for forensic entomology are that it may be used to help determine time of death (postmortem interval), location of death, wound patterns, drug use, or provide other criminal linkage.

Postmortem Interval (PMI)

 As insects which feed on a decomposing body have a predictable life cycle, forensic entomology can aid in determining the post-mortem interval, during an investigation into a suspicious death.

One of the most commonly used insects are blow flies (family - Calliphoridae). The blow flies are often the first insects to begin interacting with and feeding upon a decomposing body. 

Like other insects, the blow flies move through a predictable life cycle, from oviposition (laying of eggs), to emergence as maggots (fly larvae), to a time when they pupate, before emerging as an adult blow fly. 

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Insect Succession

Although the blow flies are the first to inhabit a decomposing body, they are not the only ones. There are a number of other insects that are attracted to the body at different stages of decomposition and may aid in determining the post-mortem interval. As the body's decomposition may be affected by a number of external factors -- such as temperature, or exposure to shade or sunlight -- the timing for this succession of insects is variable. Still through a careful examination of the area and context in which the body is found, the insect succession can aid in determining post-mortem interval.

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