Forensic Entomology

Nearly every modern crime show has had at least one episode in which a corpse is discovered with “bugs.” The bugs are maggots, or more correctly juvenile flies. Bugs on bodies is the perception of what Forensic Entomology is as a discipline.

There is something intriguing about the macabre image of fly maggots wiggling and feeding on human remains. Clearly this is gross. But the flies are silent witnesses to the crime.

Maggots can be used to estimate a portion of the post mortem interval, which in some cases, is a close approximation to the time of death.  At other times, the type of fly found on a corpse may reveal that the body has been moved.  In others, DNA from the victim can be extracted from the fly’s tissues to help identify the person.

Similarly, drugs, toxins, and gunshot and bomb residues may be identified in flies when human tissues are no longer available for analysis. In other instances, insects contaminate crime scenes and thus make the job of criminal investigators more difficult.

Let’s not forget, insects feeding on a body is the ultimate in destruction of evidence! Forensic Entomology is concerned with all of these issues and much more…….

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