Forensic Entomology: An Overview

Forensic entomology is the scientific study of insects used to aid legal investigations. When a dead body starts decomposing, it attracts insects. Forensic entomologists take a sample of the insects found on the body at the death scene. Upon examination of such insects, a forensic entomologist is often able to determine important circumstances and clues regarding the cause of death.

Removal of Body

Where an individual dies and where the body is found are usually two different places. Forensic entomologists can help law enforcement agents find where the individual died by examining insects found on the dead body.

For instance, if a body is discovered indoors while covered with a type of insect that can only live and produce eggs in outdoor conditions, there is a clear indication that the body was moved. Scientists also weigh insect eggs to determine when the eggs will mature. Scientists are able to use the eggs’ stage of maturation to give an estimated time frame between death and discovery.

Time of Death

Time of death is especially important in criminal investigations to help police narrow their search. In one case a dead body was found buried in a backyard of an individual, who had just moved to that home from another country. The individual was a suspect until it was determined by forensic entomologists that the body had been there for years, which made the prior occupants suspects.