forensic entomology | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Criminal Investigations

Forensic entomology is a subfield of forensic science that involves the study of insects and other arthropods in relation to legal investigations, particularly in the analysis of death scenes and the postmortem interval.

Forensic entomologists apply the principles of entomology, the study of insects, to legal investigations, and they may be called upon to assist in determining the time of death and other details about the death of a person.

Forensic entomologists use the life cycles, developmental rates, and feeding habits of insects and other arthropods found on or near a corpse to estimate the minimum postmortem interval, also known as the minimum time since death. The different life stages of insects and their succession on a corpse are like a clock and an expert can use the different stages, the presence of different species, and the condition of the remains to estimate the time since death.

They may also use insect evidence to determine the location of death, whether the body was moved, and other information that may be relevant to the investigation.

Forensic entomologists may work in various settings, such as forensic laboratories, medical examiners’ offices, or as independent consultants. They may also provide expert testimony in criminal trials, where they are called to share their findings and interpretation with the court.

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Last Modified: 01/11/2023


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