The Science of Forensic Entomology


When: February 16th, 2022 from 1pm - 2pm ET


Forensic entomology is the discipline of forensic science that uses insects as tools in criminal investigations. In many instances, insects serve as physical and trace evidence associated with a violent crime. The most familiar example are necrophagous fly larvae that feed on human remains. An understanding of the development of the species present can lead to an estimation of the postmortem interval. Sometimes insects are the only available resource for making decisions on when the decedent may have died, if the body has moved from another location, or performing supplemental testing such toxicological or DNA analysis. In the latter example, fly larvae function as surrogates for human tissues.

Necrophagous insects can reveal much more information than is fully realized. In this talk, we will explore several examples of how insects have been or can be used in legal investigations, specifically focusing on violent crimes. We discuss the importance of necrophagous flies to wide variety of case scenarios and discuss why flies are considered the most valuable ecological evidence at a crime scene. We will also discuss when and where insects are useful and provide multiple examples that demonstrate their utility is not limited to outdoor decompositions. There are also times when insects contaminate crime scenes, complicating the investigation more than aiding. We will explore such scenarios by providing specific examples associated with bloodstain evidence.

Detailed Learning Objectives:

• Understand where and when necrophagous flies colonize human remains.

• Explain why necrophagous flies are more valuable as ecological evidence than beetles and other types of insects associated with human remains.

• Understand examples of when insects serve as evidence beyond postmortem interval estimations.


Presenter: David Rivers, PhD - Professor of Biology at Loyola University Maryland.



Click the Enroll button below to register for this course!