Conventional Forensic Theory on Bug Feasting Order ChallengedSep 14, 2012
By Alaina Levine
|Maggots consume a pig carcass. Courtesy of Erin Sims
When a human body calls it quits, it can take as few as 30 seconds for blowflies to begin feasting on it. For the next several hours to days, a carnival of blowflies, other flies and beetles make the departed their personal bed-and-breakfasts. A determination of that succession of insects is one of the tools that crime-scene investigators (CSIs) use to estimate the postmortem interval (PMI), or the time elapsed since death.
Since the dawn of modern forensic science in the 19th century, the general belief has been that the order in which carrion-attending arthropods descend starts with blowflies, proceeds to maggots (from the fly eggs) and then moves on to beetles and other predators. Now a 27-year-old graduate student has determined that this is not always the case. Her research could represent a fly in the ointment (we could not resist) for the still burgeoning field of forensic entomology, in which scientists use bug evidence to help them solve crimes.
Source: Scientific American