Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Biology (B.S.B.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Edward B. Mondor


Forensic entomologists are often called upon to assist with law enforcement investigations. After 72 hours, insect evidence is the best method for determining the postmortem interval (PMI); the time elapsed from “death to discovery”. Here, I describe how the insects colonizing a human decedent were used to develop a PMI estimate for a homicide investigation. Using a dissecting microscope and dichotomous keys, it was determined that all specimens collected from the body were consistent with a single species, The Scuttle Fly, Megaselia scalaris Loew (Diptera: Phoridae). As the body was concealed, regression equations were developed to determine site-specific development temperatures for the insects on the body. On the basis of these temperatures, and previously determined rearing times for M. scalaris, the PMI was determined to be 8 days. In sum, insect development can be used as a “biological clock” providing key information in death investigations.

Available for download on Sunday, April 25, 2117