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Four Forensic Entomology Case Studies: Records and Behavioral Observations on Seldom Reported Cadaver Fauna With Notes on Relevant Previous Occurrences and Ecology

Natalie K. Lindgren, Melissa S. Sisson, Alan D. Archambeault, Brent C. Rahlwes, James R. Willett, Sibyl R. Bucheli
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jme/tju023 tju023 First published online: 22 January 2015

Abstract

A yearlong survey of insect taxa associated with human decomposition was conducted at the Southeast Texas Applied Forensic Science (STAFS) facility located in the Center for Biological Field Studies of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX. During this study, four insect–cadaver interactions were observed that represent previously poorly documented yet forensically significant interactions: Syrphidae maggots colonized a corpse in an aquatic situation; Psychodidae adults mated and oviposited on an algal film that was present on a corpse that had been recently removed from water; several Panorpidae were the first insects to feed upon a freshly placed corpse in the autumn; and a noctuid caterpillar was found chewing and ingesting dried human skin. Baseline knowledge of insect– cadaver interactions is the foundation of forensic entomology, and unique observations have the potential to expand our understanding of decomposition ecology.

  • forensic entomology
  • human decomposition
  • Syrphidae
  • Noctuidae
  • Panorpidae
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