Death eaters respond to the dark mark of decomposition day and night: observations of initial insect activity on piglet carcasses

Lauren M. Weidner, Michael A. Monzon, George C. Hamilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Some insect taxa can be of critical importance for criminal investigations because they can be used to assist with a time since death determination. Blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) often are the initial colonizers of a carcass, usually arriving within minutes to hours after carcass exposure during the day. Other insects, such as coleopterans and hymenopterans, can arrive to a carcass during early colonization and affect blow fly development. However, the extent of these interactions remains unclear. This study analyzed the initial 6 h after a piglet carcass was placed out in two locations (rural and urban) in diurnal and nocturnal conditions with continuous video recording and hourly observations. Four piglets were placed out every 2 weeks over the summer of 2014. Initial blow fly arrivals to the carcasses were only recorded during diurnal conditions, and a checklist of orders associated with each environment (time and location) was created. During diurnal conditions, initial blow fly arrival times in rural environments were significantly faster than those in urban, arriving as quickly as 23 s after exposure. These observations also included a novel interaction with Vespidae, which to the best of our knowledge has not been seen in the literature before. This experiment provides baseline data on early insect colonization in two environments in New Jersey, and lends insight into insect interactions that could affect initial colonization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1633-1637
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Legal Medicine
Volume130
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

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Diptera
Insects
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Keywords

  • Blow flies
  • Calliphoridae
  • Colonization
  • Hymenoptera
  • Vespidae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

Cite this

Death eaters respond to the dark mark of decomposition day and night : observations of initial insect activity on piglet carcasses. / Weidner, Lauren M.; Monzon, Michael A.; Hamilton, George C.

In: International Journal of Legal Medicine, Vol. 130, No. 6, 01.11.2016, p. 1633-1637.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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