Insects Found in Caves

The fauna of the cave may be treated in opposition the open air insect population. A cave or abyss can be considered a medium for delaying or inhibiting locations of remains by insects, and thus their colonization. However, some authors reported surprising observations.

Turchetto et al. (2008) collected puparia in the surroundings of bones of a German soldier captured and executed during the liberation of a village in the province of La Spezia (NW Italy). Remains were found in a cave or foiba located 240 m above sea level (647 m deep with a 15 m wide opening). Puparia belonged to Calliphoridae (one puparium of Calliphora sp.), Fannidae and Heleomyzidae. Vanin and Vernier (2005) updated a list of species of Diptera collected in a cave (Grotta della Guerra, Vicenza Province, Italy) including Heleomyzidae: Heleomyza serrata and Heteromyza atricornis. Four other species were identified: Limonia rubeculosa (Limoniidae), Psychoda parthogenetica (Psychodidae), Culex pipiens (Culicidae) and Leptocera nigra (Sphaeroceridae).

Wyss and Cherix (2006) tried to recontruct the chain of events after the discovery of a dead hill-walker in an abyss 18 days after being declared missing. They placed a bait containing pig meat (muscle and liver) 10 m above the ground at the bottom of the abyss in the dark for 17 days in August. Twelve days after the disposal of the bait, they observed oviposition of Calliphora vicina and Calliphora vomitoria. Adults of Neoleria inscripta (Heleomyzidae) and Stearibia nigriceps (Piophilidae) were identified too. In the same abyss, they had previously collected larvae of Calliphora vomitoria (Calliphoridae) and pupae of Neoleria inscripta and Megaselia rufipes (Phoridae) on a roe deer carcass 6.5 m deep. Living Carabidae, Catopidae (Catops picipes) and Staphylidae represent Coleoptera. A cave or abyss is considered a confined medium that significantly delays or forbids the arrival of insects on remains and thus their colonization. According to the geographical location and altitude, ambient conditions may be strongly different from open air conditions. Cave and abyss are mediums presenting a strong and obvious similitary with regard to the burial environment.

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