Forensic entomology focuses mainly on the use of insects to establish time of death. During the past two decades entomological data have emerged as valuable tools in criminal investigations of humans and wildlife. Two procedures for estimating postmortem intervals (PMI’s) are: 1) determining the age of fly larvae associated with decaying remains; and 2) comparing faunal succession data with index patterns for similar scenarios. The former (i.e., development rates of fly larvae of Calliphoridae, Sarcophagidae, Muscidae) have been the traditional units of forensic entomology. Most research conducted to date has focused on these primary “indicators of death.” My research aims to increase our knowledge of faunal succession patterns by identifying species and life stage interactions of all necrophilous insects associated with wildlife carcasses in Louisiana. Three seasonal field experiments were conducted in spring and fall 1999, and winter 2000 in a mixed hardwood forest in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Each study included seven fresh carcasses of the following species: 1 Louisiana Black Bear (a threatened species); 2 Whitetail deer; 2 Alligators; and 2 swine (experimental control). Sampling methods included aerial sweep net, manual sampling of the carcass and surrounding litter, and pitfall traps. Results presented here will be limited to lesser known but potentially important “secondary” indicator taxa. Data obtained from this research will supplement and improve the accuracy of PMI’s by providing additional life history information for taxa largely ignored in previous forensic research, including: Coleoptera: Dermestidae, Nitidulidae, Silphidae, Staphylinidae; Diptera: Phoridae, Piophilidae, Sphaeroceridae, Stratiomyidae. Adult specimens alone are often not reliable indicators of time since death, but are necessary for identifying the more critical larval forms. Both adult and immature forms will be discussed, with particular attention to coleopteran larvae.
Species 1: Coleoptera Silphidae Necrodes surinamensis (carrion beetle)
Species 2: Diptera Piophilidae Stearibia nigriceps (skipper flies)
Species 3: Diptera Phoridae Conicera hypocera barberi
Keywords: forensic entomology, faunal succession patterns
The ESA 2001 Annual Meeting - 2001: An Entomological Odyssey of ESA