Introduction

Toxicology is a scientific field with many distinct branches, and as such, its various specialists share distinct interests. For example, for forensic investigations of deaths caused by poisoning, the combined effort of pathology, biology, chemistry and pharmaceutics experts and others is needed. Every detail must be based on sampled evidences of the highest quality and best conditions possible, to be coupled with other information for a conclusive picture of the circumstances of death.

Identifying illicit substances or their metabolic sub-products during the quantitative and qualitative analyses of every sample is of crucial relevance to determine if these are of natural or synthetic origin. For example, the presence of many synthetic drugs can be determined through detection and quantification of secondary contaminants, such as adulterants and other substances or solvents mixed to it (Tanaka et al. 1994).

Deaths related to drugs have increased in several countries over the recent years. Frequently the body of the victim remains undiscovered for a period of time ranging from a few days to months (Goff and Lord 1994).

There are many toxicological analysis techniques and methodologies available today, but it is often difficult obtaining proper samples for the following reasons (Kintz et al. 1990a; Pounder 1991):

The cadaver may be greatly decomposed or contaminated.

There is no blood or urine available to be sampled.

Some biological traits may have been altered according to the death circumstances, e.g.

death by intoxication with carbon monoxide.

The relatives of the dead person have religious beliefs that forbid collecting samples from the body.

In this context, insects (mainly maggots) have frequently been used in the absence of body samples for toxicological analyses and they, in fact, present some advantages. It is possible to detect drugs and illicit substances in insects directly feeding from

Department of Zoology, Paulista State University, Sao Paulo, Brazil

J. Amendt et al. (eds.), Current Concepts in Forensic Entomology, 163

DOI 10.1007/978-1-4020-9684-6_9, © Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2010

the body or carcass tissues, provided that they were not exposed to other sources of drug contamination (Beyer et al. 1980; Kintz et al. 1990b). The analyses of insects found on decomposed bodies are useful not only as criminal evidences and tools to aid estimating postmortem intervals (PMI), but also qualitatively and quantitatively identify the presence of drugs (Beyer et al. 1980).

Entomotoxicology is a rather recent forensic entomology branch that deals with the use of toxicological analyses of carrion-feeding insects in order to identify drugs and toxins present in tissues from dead bodies. It also investigates the effects caused by these drugs on insect lifecycles, thus aiding correctly estimate PMI (Introna 2001).

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