Carrion Insects

Blow flies are the first and most common insect to arrive on a corpse. they provide the most accurate estimation of the time of death. There are multiple species of blow flies that show up on corpses. They can also arrive within minutes of death depending on multiple factors such as climate and individual ways a body begins breaking down.

  • The predominant species of insects are Calliphoridae(Blow flies) Sacrophagidae(Flesh Flies) and Muscidae(House Flies)
  • Blow flies and flesh flies can arrive within minutes following death. House flies arrive when the body reaches bloat stages in decomposition. They lay eggs in natural body openings and wounds. When the maggots pass through the three instars they stop feeding, move to drier areas and begin pupa formation. The outer skin of the maggot hardens and eventually emerges as a fly
  • Muscidae Sacrophagidae

Carrion beetles show up during later stages of decomposition. when the body begins to dry blow flies do not find the body as suitable. Many will eat away at the dry flesh.

Forensics in Popular Culture

Television shows like CSI and Law And Order have been watched by millions for decades. Forensics are portrayed as state of the art, top scientist and highly staffed but this is far from reality. this has created what is known as the CSI effect. Jurors think there are vast amounts of forensic evidence when that is not always the case. Police have since started to collect more forensic evidence due to this. This popularity has also increased the number of people studying in forensic fields. Labs are often overburdened and lack state of the art technologies (Houck, 85).

Daubert v Merrel Dow Pharmaceuticals established criteria for evidence collect that is applied to all forensic fields. for evidence to be used in courts the evidence must be testable, have a known error rate, be peer reviewed, and accepted by the community who use the technique. The courts expect there to be evidence in most cases. Although evidence is not always present, the evidence collected must be as accurate as possible. Forensic entomologists have created a framework to adhere to the criteria required. Knowledge of specific species, environmental factors and individual factors with a body and its decomposition are just a few things scientists are factoring into their work when determining time of death.

Forensic Entomology in Education

Forensic entomology is now being used by some educators to teach ecological succession to students at multiple education levels. Ecological succession is the process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time. They examine a damaged ecosystem VS a dead animal. They attract specific organisms. One organism takes over and progresses while the other decays and no longer exists (McNeil, 153)

Forensic Entomology VS Forensic Anthropology

Both of these fields typically deal with human remains and criminal investigations. Forensic entomology processes the insects left behind during various stages of decomposition on a body. Forensic entomologists provide time of death by determining the stage and rate of decomposition. They can also see what regions the body has been in if it has been moved from another location (Turner, 134).

Forensic anthropology determines the identity of unidentified remains, interprets trauma and gives estimates of time since death. Both of these fields often work alongside law enforcement agencies but they handle two very different investigations with the remains.