Forensic Entomology

Forensic entomology is the study of arthropods, especially insects, associated with crimes and other aspects of the courts and judicial system. Forensic entomology usually involves the identification of insects and other arthropods associated with human remains as an aid to determining the time and place of death.

Time of death can often be ascertained based on the ambient temperature and other weather conditions over the preceding days at the crime site and by correlating this information with the developmental rates of key arthropod species present on, or in, the corpse. These arthropods are typically fly larvae, some of which are important primary and secondary decomposers of animal remains. By knowing developmental times and related information for decomposer species at different temperatures, it often is possible to quite accurately estimate the time of death.

The location where a crime took place, if different from the discovery site, also sometimes can be determined based on the presence of unique arthropods with known distributions that do not include the area where the body was found. Similarly, examination of carefully collected insect evidence can aid in solving other crimes (e.g., the origin of drug shipments and sources of vehicles and other accessories used in crimes) in which there is arthropod evidence involving taxa with characteristic geographical distributions.

Further details on the science of forensic entomology are provided by Vincent et al. (1985), Smith (1986),

Erzinclioglu ( 1989), Catts and Haskeil ( 1990), Catts and Goff (1992), and Goff (2000).

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