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Arch Hellen Med, 25(2), March-April 2008, 217-220


Forensic entomology: Flies and beetles in service of law

1Faculty of Medicine, University of Patras, Patras,
2Department of Forensic Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Crete, Herakleion, Greece

Forensic entomology is the scientific use of insects and their arthropod counterparts which interact with legal matters. The broad field of forensic entomology is commonly divided into medicolegal, urban, and stored product entomology. The medicolegal section focuses on the criminal component of the legal system and deals with the necrophagous insects that typically infest human remains. Forensic entomologists are most commonly called upon to determine the postmortem interval (PMI) in homicide investigations. A qualified forensic entomologist can also make inferences as to the possible postmortem disposition of a body, and whether the victim was killed during the daytime or at night. The diverse applications of forensic entomology include entomotoxicology, bloodspatter pattern analysis, and the detection of child abuse and neglect of the elderly. Forensic entomologists are also requested to examine the fragmented remains of insects found on the front fender, windshield and radiator of automobiles. Analysis of such remains can yield evidence of the probable route of an automobile through particular areas. Insects that feed on live, decomposing, or dried vegetable material are submitted to the forensic entomologist in an effort to determine the country of origin. This is of particular significance with reference to vegetable material such as imported cannabis. It is believed that the future advancement of forensic entomology will lead to the establishment of a new scientific discipline which will enrich dramatically the procedure of the pathologist's medicolegal investigation of deaths.

Key words: Forensic entomology, Forensic medicine, Human decomposition.

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