Forensic Entomology: Decomposition and Then Some

So, what is Forensic Entomology?  When someone says those two little words the first thing that pops into most peoples minds is Grissom from CSI.  Interesting though he may be (and loosely based on an actual Entomologist, Dr. Neil Haskell and Acarologist Dr. Lee Goff) there’s more to it than that.  Forensic entomology is more than just analyzing dead stinky stuff.  There are actually three different subfields of forensic entomology: Urban, Stored Product Pest and Medicolegal Entomology.  Medicolegal is the most commonly thought of branch but it is actually the branch that sees the least amount of use.  Termite cases comprise the vast majority of legal cases related to entomology and that’s what “Forensic Entomology” is: The application of Entomology, insects and other arthropods to legal issues.  This can be civil and criminal.

Think about how much you hear about bed bugs or carpenter ants, maggots, or bees in the news!  Aunt Sally went to that fast food restaurant and found a maggot in her burger?  Lawsuit! Bed bugs infesting an apartment complex that was supposed to have been treated?  Lawsuit!  New home owners have a termite problem but none was found by the initial inspection or disclosed by the original owners?  You bet there’s gonna be a lawsuit. Though very different in focus, all are examples of forensic entomology.  I happen to think that each has its fascinating points as well as wildly boring ones as well.

For your viewing pleasure, over the next few days I am going to walk you through the process of decomposition as it unfolds in my front yard.  I found a recently biffed groundhog and just placed it out this morning.  Over the coming days I’ll post pictures and some analysis of what is happening to the groundhog over time.

Day 1 Full Body
Day 1: Full Body
approx. 11:00am EST
Day 1: Head and forelegs
Day 1: Head and forelegs
approx. 11:00am EST
Day 1: Posterior
Day 1: Posterior
approx. 11:00am EST

**Edit** Added Images Later in the Day

Full View approx. 18:00 (6pm) EST
Full View
approx. 18:00 (6pm) EST
Eggs on lower abdomen approx. 18:00 (6pm) EST
Eggs on lower abdomen
approx. 18:00 (6pm) EST

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