Forensic Entomology: A Comprehensive Review

Sundus Mona, Maryam Khalid, Muhammad Jawad, Saadia Noreen, Allah Rakha


Determination of post mortem interval is done with various methods depending upon the condition of the dead body and the circumstances in which it is found. Ruling out foul play in unnatural deaths has been an enigma of a sort for forensic pathologists and scientists all over the world. The methods to determine the cause and manner of death keep on emerging with ongoing researches in the fields of forensic sciences. Many methods have been devised to determine cause, manner and specifically time since death. Forensic entomology is one such field that aids in determination of time since death, especially in putrefied corpses found in different habitats in mysterious unknown circumstances. The field keeps on emerging with the advent of new techniques on molecular level, including DNA analysis and identification based on entomological data that has diversified over the years. The standards and guidelines for entomological data collection and processing needed for implication on the crime scene must be revised now and again for assistance of crime scene investigators, scientists, entomologists and pathologists. Various factors must be considered while processing entomological data that affect post mortem intervals. The keen study of life cycles, groups of similar insects, valid and standard methods of insect collection, breeding and identification can give a lead on cause, manner, time, place and circumstances of unknown or unnatural deaths. 

Full Text:



Sharma R, Garg RK, Gaur J. Various methods for the estimation of the post mortem interval from Calliphoridae: A review. Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences, (2015); 5(1): 1-12.

Schoenly K, Goff ML, Wells JD, Lord WD. Quantifying statistical uncertainty in succession-based entomological estimates of the postmortem interval in death scene investigations: a simulation study. American Entomologist, (1996); 42(2): 106-112.

Byrd JH, Castner, J.L Forensic entomology: Insects in legal investigations. 2010; 705. Taylor and Francis Group.

Amendt J, Campobasso CP, Gaudry E, Reiter C, LeBlanc HN, et al. Best practice in forensic entomology—standards and guidelines. International journal of legal medicine, (2007); 121(2): 90-104.

Singh D, Bala M. The effect of starvation on the larval behavior of two forensically important species of blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Forensic science international, (2009); 193(1-3): 118-121.

Durdle A, Mitchell RJ, van Oorschot RA. The Food Preferences of the Blow Fly Lucilia cuprina Offered Human Blood, Semen and Saliva, and Various Nonhuman Foods Sources. Journal of forensic sciences, (2016); 61(1): 99-103.

Tarone AM, Jennings KC, Foran DR. Aging blow fly eggs using gene expression: a feasibility study. Journal of forensic sciences, (2007); 52(6): 1350-1354.

Zehner R, Amendt J, Boehme P. Gene expression analysis as a tool for age estimation of blowfly pupae. Forensic Science International: Genetics Supplement Series, (2009); 2(1): 292-293.

Benecke M. A brief history of forensic entomology. Forensic Science International, (2001); 120(1-2): 2-14.

Alacs EA, Georges A, FitzSimmons NN, Robertson J. DNA detective: a review of molecular approaches to wildlife forensics. Forensic science, medicine, and pathology, (2010); 6(3): 180-194.

Chapman AD. Numbers of living species in Australia and the world. (2009); Australian Biodiversity Information Services.

Novotny V, Basset Y, Miller SE, Weiblen GD, Bremer B, et al. Low host specificity of herbivorous insects in a tropical forest. Nature, (2002); 416(6883): 841.

Erwin TL. Biodiversity at its utmost: tropical forest beetles. Biodiversity II Understanding and protecting our biological resources, (1997); 27-40.

Harper D (2001) Online etymology dictionary.

Wigglesworth VB The principles of insect physiology. 2012; Springer Science & Business Media.

Catts EP, Goff ML. Forensic entomology in criminal investigations. Annual review of Entomology, (1992); 37(1): 253-272.

Al-Mesbah H (2010) A study of forensically important necrophagous Diptera in Kuwait. University of Central Lancashire, Faculty of Science, Forensic and Investigation Department: M. Sc. thesis.

Gomes L, Godoy WAC, Von Zuben CJ. A review of postfeeding larval dispersal in blowflies: implications for forensic entomology. Naturwissenschaften, (2006); 93(5): 207-215.

Benecke M (2005) Arthropods and corpses. Forensic pathology reviews: Springer. pp. 207-240.

Anderson GS. Effects of arson on forensic entomology evidence. Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal, (2005); 38(2): 49-67.

Adair T. Aspects Influencing the Entomological Postmortem Interval in Crime Scene Reconstruction. J Assoc Crime Scene Reconstr, (2012); 18(3).

Lord WD, Rodriguez WC. Forensic entomology: the use of insects in the investigation of homicide and untimely death. The Prosecutor Winter, (1989); 41-48.

Vanin S, Huchet JB. Forensic Entomology and Funerary Archaeoentomology. Taphonomy of Human Remains: Forensic Analysis of the Dead and the Depositional Environment. 2017; 513. Taylor and Francis Group.

Zanetti NI, Visciarelli EC, Centeno ND. The effect of temperature and laboratory rearing conditions on the development of Dermestes maculatus (Coleoptera: Dermestidae). Journal of forensic sciences, (2016); 61(2): 375-381.

Disney RHL, Garcia-Rojo A, Lindström A, Manlove JD. Further occurrences of Dohrniphora cornuta (Bigot)(Diptera, Phoridae) in forensic cases indicate likely importance of this species in future cases. Forensic science international, (2014); 241e20-e22.

Rodriguez III WC. Insect activity and its relationship to decay rates of human cadavers in East Tennessee. (1982); Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, USA.

Reiter C, Hajek P. Age-dependent changes in the intestinal contents of blowfly maggots–a study method in the framework of forensic determination of the time of death. Zeitschrift fur Rechtsmedizin Journal of legal medicine, (1984); 92(1): 39-45.

Kashyap V, Pillay V. Efficacy of entomological method in estimation of postmortem interval: A comparative analysis. Forensic Science International, (1989); 40(3): 245-250.

Introna F, Altamura BM, Dell'Erba A, Dattoli V. Time since death definition by experimental reproduction of Lucilia sericata cycles in growth cabinet. Journal of Forensic Science, (1989); 34(2): 478-480.

Anderson GS, Cervenka VJ, Haglund W, Sorg M. Insects associated with the body: their use and analyses. Advances in forensic taphonomy: method, theory, and archaeological perspectives, (2002); 173200.

Wells J, LaMotte L. The role of a PMI-prediction model in evaluating forensic entomology experimental design, the importance of covariates, and the utility of response variables for estimating time since death. Insects, (2017); 8(2): 47.

Grassberger M, Reiter C. Effect of temperature on development of the forensically important holarctic blow fly Protophormia terraenovae (Robineau-Desvoidy)(Diptera: Calliphoridae). Forensic Science International, (2002); 128(3): 177-182.

Bourel B, Callet Bt, Hédouin V, Gosset D. Flies eggs: a new method for the estimation of short-term post-mortem interval? Forensic science international, (2003); 135(1): 27-34.

Gabre RM, Adham FK, Chi H. Life table of Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius)(Diptera: Calliphoridae). Acta oecologica, (2005); 27(3): 179-183.

Campobasso CP, Linville JG, Wells JD, Introna F. Forensic genetic analysis of insect gut contents. The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology, (2005); 26(2): 161-165.

Zhu GH, Xu XH, Xiao JY, Zhang Y, Wang JF. Puparial case hydrocarbons of Chrysomya megacephala as an indicator of the postmortem interval. Forensic Science International, (2007); 169(1): 1-5.

Nabity P, Higley LG, Heng-Moss TM. Effects of temperature on development of Phormia regina (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and use of developmental data in determining time intervals in forensic entomology. Journal of medical entomology, (2006); 43(6): 1276-1286.

Charabidze D, Bourel B, Leblanc H, Hedouin V, Gosset D. Effect of body length and temperature on the crawling speed of Protophormia terraenovae larvae (Robineau-Desvoidy)(Diptera Calliphoridae). Journal of insect physiology, (2008); 54(3): 529-533.

Roux O, Gers C, Legal L. Ontogenetic study of three Calliphoridae of forensic importance through cuticular hydrocarbon analysis. Medical and veterinary entomology, (2008); 22(4): 309-317.

Reibe S, Doetinchem Pv, Madea B. A new simulation-based model for calculating post-mortem intervals using developmental data for Lucilia sericata (Dipt.: Calliphoridae). Parasitology research, (2010); 107(1): 9-16.

Ahmad NW, Lim LH, Dhang CC, Chin HC, Abdullah A, et al. Comparative insect fauna succession on indoor and outdoor monkey carrions in a semi-forested area in Malaysia. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, (2011); 1(2): S232-S238.

Brown K, Thorne A, Harvey M. Preservation of Calliphora vicina (Diptera: Calliphoridae) pupae for use in post-mortem interval estimation. Forensic science international, (2012); 223(1-3): 176-183.

Davies K, Harvey ML. Internal morphological analysis for age estimation of blow fly pupae (Diptera: Calliphoridae) in postmortem interval estimation. Journal of forensic sciences, (2013); 58(1): 79-84.

Boehme P, Spahn P, Amendt J, Zehner R. Differential gene expression during metamorphosis: a promising approach for age estimation of forensically important Calliphora vicina pupae (Diptera: Calliphoridae). International journal of legal medicine, (2013); 127(1): 243-249.

Devine C, Hinman VF, Degnan BM. Evolution and developmental expression of nuclear receptor genes in the ascidian Herdmania. International Journal of Developmental Biology, (2004); 46(4): 687-692.

Lints R, Emmons SW. Patterning of dopaminergic neurotransmitter identity among Caenorhabditis elegans ray sensory neurons by a TGFbeta family signaling pathway and a Hox gene. Development, (1999); 126(24): 5819-5831.

Degnan B, Morse D. Identification of eight homeobox-containing transcripts expressed during larval development and at metamorphosis in the gastropod mollusc Haliotis rufescens. Molecular marine biology and biotechnology, (1993); 2(1): 1-9.

Giusti AF, Hinman VF, Degnan SM, Degnan BM, Morse DE. Expression of a Scr/Hox5 gene in the larval central nervous system of the gastropod Haliotis, a non‐segmented spiralian lophotrochozoan. Evolution & development, (2000); 2(5): 294-302.

Coon S, Fitt W. and Bonar, DB (1990). Competence and delay of metamorphosis in the pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. Marine Biology, 106379-387.

Lelong C, Mathieu M, Favrel P. Structure and expression of mGDF, a new member of the transforming growth factor‐β superfamily in the bivalve mollusc Crassostrea gigas. European journal of biochemistry, (2000); 267(13): 3986-3993.

Richards CS, Simonsen TJ, Abel RL, Hall MJ, Schwyn DA, et al. Virtual forensic entomology: improving estimates of minimum post-mortem interval with 3D micro-computed tomography. Forensic science international, (2012); 220(1-3): 251-264.

Frederickx C, Dekeirsschieter J, Brostaux Y, Wathelet J-P, Verheggen F, et al. Volatile organic compounds released by blowfly larvae and pupae: New perspectives in forensic entomology. Forensic Science International, (2012); 219(1-3): 215-220.

Ventura F, Gallo M, De Stefano F. Postmortem Skin Damage due to Ants: Description of 3 Cases. The American journal of forensic medicine and pathology, (2010); 31(2): 120-121.

Paczkowski S, Schütz S. Post-mortem volatiles of vertebrate tissue. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, (2011); 91(4): 917-935.

Omer SSA-E (2014) The Succession of Forensic Beetles on Exposed and Wrapped Carcasses During Winter and Summer in Khartoum State: Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum.

Kohlmeier RE. Beating the Devil's Game: A History of Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation. The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, (2011); 32(2): e12.

Bevel T GR Blood Stain Pattern Analysis. 1997; CRC Press, New York.

James S, Sutton T. Medium-and high-velocity impact blood spatter. Interpretation of Bloodstain Evidence at Crime Scenes, second ed, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, New York, (1998); 59-83.

Brown RE HR, Parker MA, Byrd JH Entomological alteration of bloodstain evidence. In: Byrd JH, Castner JL, eds. Entomological Evidence: Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigation.. 2000; CRC Press, Boca Raton.

Singh K, Sonker R. Wriggling Witnesses. (2015).

Bushby SK, Thomas N, Priemel PA, Coulter CV, Rades T, et al. Determination of methylphenidate in Calliphorid larvae by liquid–liquid extraction and liquid chromatography mass spectrometry–forensic entomotoxicology using an in vivo rat brain model. Journal of pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis, (2012); 70456-461.

Verma K, Paul R. Assessment of post mortem interval,(PMI) from forensic entomotoxicological studies of larvae and flies. Entomol Ornithol Herpetol, (2013); 2(104): 2161-0983.1000104.

Jeffreys AJ, Wilson V, Thein SL. Individual-specific ‘fingerprints’ of human DNA. Nature, (1985); 316(6023): 76-79.

Weedn VW, Gettings KB, Podini DS (2018) Identity Testing. Principles and Applications of Molecular Diagnostics: Elsevier. pp. 329-343.

van den Berge M, Bhoelai B, Harteveld J, Matai A, Sijen T. Advancing forensic RNA typing: on non-target secretions, a nasal mucosa marker, a differential co-extraction protocol and the sensitivity of DNA and RNA profiling. Forensic Science International: Genetics, (2016); 20: 119-129.

Kierszenbaum AL, Tres L (2015) Histology and Cell Biology: An Introduction to Pathology E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.

Halliwell B, Gutteridge JM (2015) Free radicals in biology and medicine. Oxford University Press, USA.

Hara M, Nakanishi H, Takahashi S, Nagai A, Yamamoto T, et al. Relationship between DNA degradation ratios and the number of loci detectable by STR kits in extremely old seminal stain samples. Legal Medicine, (2015); 17(5): 391-393.

Sharma M, Singh D. Utility of Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) In Forensic Entomology. (2017); 3(1): 56-58.

Meiklejohn KA, Wallman JF, Dowton M. DNA-based identification of forensically important Australian Sarcophagidae (Diptera). International Journal of Legal Medicine, (2011); 125(1): 27-32.

Allaire MT. Postmortem interval (PMI) determination at three biogeoclimatic zones in southwest Colorado. (2002). MA Thesis; Louisiana State University, USA.

Schroeder H, Klotzbach H, Püschel K. Insects' colonization of human corpses in warm and cold season. Legal medicine, (2003); 5S372-S374.

Rolo EA, Oliveira AR, Dourado CG, Farinha A, Rebelo MT, et al. Identification of sarcosaprophagous Diptera species through DNA barcoding in wildlife forensics. Forensic Science International, (2013); 228(1-3): 160-164.

Preativatanyou K, Sirisup N, Payungporn S, Poovorawan Y, Thavara U, et al. Mitochondrial DNA-based identification of some forensically important blowflies in Thailand. Forensic science international, (2010); 202(1-3): 97-101.

Tuccia F, Giordani G, Vanin S. A general review of the most common COI primers for Calliphoridae identification in forensic entomology. Forensic science international Genetics, (2016); 24e9.

Sperling FA, Anderson GS, Hickey D. A DNA-based approach to the identification of insect species used for postmorten interval estimation. Journal of Forensic Science, (1994); 39(2): 418-427.

Anderson GS. Wildlife forensic entomology: determining time of death in two illegally killed black bear cubs. Journal of Forensic Science, (1999); 44(4): 856-859.


  • There are currently no refbacks.