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Forensic Entomology Joyce Chan Instructor: Mary Villani Entomology is the study of insects Forensic Entomology is the application of using arthropods in legal investigations It is typically sub-grouped into: Urban, Stored-Product, and Medicolegal What is Forensic Entomology?

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Forensic Entomology

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forensic entomology

Forensic Entomology

Joyce Chan

Instructor: Mary Villani

what is forensic entomology
Entomology is the study of insects

Forensic Entomology is the application of using arthropods in legal investigations

It is typically sub-grouped into: Urban, Stored-Product, and Medicolegal

What is Forensic Entomology?
urban entomology
Urban: pest infestations in buildings or gardens that may be the basis of litigation between private parties and service providersUrban Entomology
stored product entomology
Stored-product: used in litigation over infestation or contamination of commercially distributed foods by insectsStored-Product Entomology
medicolegal entomology
Medicolegal: used in litigation over criminal actions by people, in cases such as murder, rape, suicide, physical abuse, etc.Medicolegal Entomology
history of forensic entomology the earliest case
History of Forensic Entomology: The Earliest Case
  • Sung Tz'u (1235 AD) – Chinese “death investigator”
  • Wrote The Washing Away of Wrongs
  • First forensic entomology case recorded
  • A murder by slashing occurred in a village, and the local death investigator was ordered to solve the crime. The investigator had all villagers bring their sickles to one spot and lay them out before the crowd. Flies were attracted to one of the sickles, probably because of invisible remnants of tissue still remaining on it, and the owner subsequently broke down and confessed to the crime.
  • Name comes from Latin insectus, meaning “cut into sections,” referring to the segmented bodies of insects
  • Major group of Arthropods
  • Most diverse group of animals on Earth
  • Over 1 million species
  • Two groups: Apterygota (wingless) and Pterygota (winged)
Means “jointed foot,” all arthropods have jointed legs

Largest phylum of animals: includes insects, arachnids, crustaceans, and many others

faunal succession
Insects arrive at the scene in a predictable series of progression

Used to determine time of death

Can be affected by: temperature, sun exposure, location of body, as well as the surrounding environment

Faunal Succession
first wave blowflies
First to arrive at the scene

Member of the Calliphoridae family

Metallic in appearance

Usually blue, green, or black

10-12 mm in length

Ability to “smell” death 10 miles away

First Wave: Blowflies
second wave flesh flies
Part of the second wave

Member of the Sarcophagidae family

Breed in carrion, dung, or decaying material

Some breed in open wounds of mammals

Second Wave: Flesh Flies
third wave dermestid beetles
Member of the Coleoptera family

Common names include: larder beetle, hide beetle, carpet beetle, and kharpa beetle

Some species cause millions of dollars worth of damage to fibers

Life cycle is about 45 days

Third Wave: Dermestid Beetles
later waves mites
Later Waves: Mites
  • Belongs to subclass Acarina
  • Have existed for over 400 million years
  • Over 45,000 species of mites
  • Usually found in warm locations
Scene inspection

Weather Data

Collection at crime scene

Shipment of evidence to lab

Analyzed by forensic entomologist

scene inspection
Scene Inspection

Includes observing:

  • general habitat and surrounding area
  • surrounding foliage and flora
  • Sun and shade conditions
  • Proximity to outdoors if scene is indoors
  • All information should be noted
  • Photos should be taken
weather data collection
Ambient air temperature

Maggot mass temperature

Ground surface temperature

Temperature between body and surface

Temperature of soil underneath body

Weather data from 1-2 weeks prior including rainfall and maximum and minimum temperatures

Weather Data Collection
collection at crime scene flies and beetles
Collection at Crime Scene: Flies and Beetles
  • Adult Flies and beetles: move quick and disperse when disturbed
  • Net : regular insect netting
  • Killing Jar : cotton swabs soaked in ethyl acetate
  • Ethyl Alcohol: 75%
  • Label: geographical location, date and hour of collection, case number, location to where body was moved, name of collector (in graphite pencil, placed inside vial. Second exterior label also necessary)
collection at crime scene larvae
Collection at Crime Scene: Larvae
  • Search for presence of eggs
  • Collect largest larvae
  • Collect representative sample of 50-60 larvae
  • Place directly in killing solution or ethyl alcohol
  • To preserve: boil for 30 seconds within 48 hours
  • Each Maggot mass is treated as separate sites
collection at crime scene live sample
Collection at Crime Scene: Live Sample
  • After collection of primary samples, duplicate samples for live shipment
  • Place in specimen container
  • Place beef liver or pork meat in moist environment
  • Seal and create air holes
collection at the crime scene after body removal
Collection at the Crime Scene: After Body Removal
  • Collect preserved and living samples
  • Collect soil samples
  • Collect litter samples
  • Collect 2-3 inches of top soil
  • All samples placed in cardboard container for shipment
  • All samples should be promptly shipped to forensic entomologist
  • Overnight express using USPS (US Mail) or United Postal Service (UPS)
  • Fed Ex and other services do not ship preserved or live insects
equipment and tools
Aerial insect nets18” wood handle12” diameter

Vials4 dramscrew cap

Forceps“feather-touch”thin & flexible metal

Equipment and Tools
books on forensic entomology
Books on Forensic Entomology
  • Forensic Entomology Gennard, Dorothy E.
  • Entomology and the Law: Flies as Forensic Indicators Greenberg, Bernard
  • Forensic Entomology Byrd, Jason H., Castner, James L.
  • Information
sources images
Sources: Images
sources images28
Sources: Images