Can a Forensic Entomologist Really Calculate Time of Death?

Entomology Today

forensic entomology workshop Participants at the Forensic Entomology Workshop held at the New Jersey School of Conservation learn that insects that colonize decomposing organic matter can provide clues about the timing of a death—but the answers they provide are often more complicated than the “open and shut” cases depicted on TV. (Photo credit: Denise Gemmellaro)

By Denise Gemmellaro

This is the second part in a series of posts on forensic entomology. Read Part One and stay tuned for future posts in the coming weeks here on Entomology Today.

Medicolegal forensic entomology is a field of entomology focused on the study and observation insects that, because of their feeding behavior and biology, can be associated with human remains at a crime scene. Some are necrophagous (eating dead things), while others are necrophilous (loving dead things). We know, based on research conducted in the field and observations, that decomposing organic matter is indeed quite appealing…

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