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What information can a forensic entomologist provide at the death scene?

Posted in Forensic Entomology & DNA Barcoding by paibiopai on November 23, 2009

Forensic entomologists are commonly called upon to determine the postmortem interval or “time since death” in homicide investigations.  More specifically, the forensic entomologist estimates a portion of the postmortem interval based on the age of the insect present.  This entomological based estimation is most commonly called the “Time Since Colonization”.  Based on the factors in a particular investigation, this may, or may not, closely approximate the entire postmortem interval.  In either case, it is the duty of the Forensic Pathologist, Medical Examiner, or Coroner to estimate the postmortem interval, and the Forensic Entomologist may assist them in providing information on the “time since colonization”, which can ultimately be used to substantiate a portion of the postmortem interval.

The forensic entomologist can use a number of different techniques including species succession, larval weight, larval length, and a more technical method known as the accumulated degree hour technique which can be very precise if the necessary data is available.  A qualified forensic entomologist can also make inferences as to possible postmortem movement of a corpse.  Some flies prefer specific habitats such as a distinct preference for laying their eggs in an outdoor or indoor environment.   Flies can also exhibit preferences for carcasses in shade or sunlit conditions of the (more…)

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Finding the Cause of Death using Forensic Entomology

Posted in Forensic Entomology & DNA Barcoding by paibiopai on November 20, 2009

In a crime investigation, there is not only of great interest to find out when a victim died, but also of interest to find out how the victim died, as this can be used to find the killer.

In some instances the insects themselves are the killers, in other instances the insects occuring on the carrion can shed a light on what happened when the victim died.

Wasps and bees, for example, can inject venom through a sting. Some people are sensitive and allergic to these venoms, and can die if not treated in time. One other important aspect of wasps and bees are their effect on drivers. Many car accidents are probably caused by some wasp, bee or bumble-bee coming through the window, causing hysteria, or a distraction from the road leading to a collision or other accidents. In some cases wasps and bees has been used as murder weapons,  (more…)

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