Insect Faunal Succession and Development of Forensically Important Flies on Deer Carcasses in Southwest Virginia

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Virginia Tech

Forensic entomology has become synonymous with medico-legal entomology and involves the use of insects in legal and criminal investigations.  Insects have been used as evidence in cases of wrongful death of humans and in wildlife poaching cases for many years.  The first jail time sentence for wildlife poaching in Manitoba, Canada was awarded after insect evidence was used to create a timeline for the crime.  In the interest of advancing the science of forensic entomology, insect faunal succession was studied on four white-tailed deer carcasses in southwest Virginia in the summers of 2009 and 2010.  The patterns of insect succession between the summers of 2009 and 2010 were similar at ± = 0.05.  Necrophagous insects arrived in a successional pattern as has been observed on other animal models (e.g. pigs) during past studies conducted in southwest Virginia.  To further explore the role of wildlife specific variables to forensic entomology, larvae of Phormia regina, Meigen, were reared on pork and venison in a laboratory at Virginia Tech.  Environmental rearing conditions were 30" C, 75% RH and 14:10 hour light dark cycle.  Significant differences in lengths of 3rd instar and combined overall maggot lengths were found for maggots reared on the different meat sources.  Mean adult weights and wing lengths of venison-reared flies were significantly greater than those reared on pork at ±=0.05.

Forensic Entomology, Insect Succession, Wildlife Poaching, Postmortem Interval