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Influence of Substrate Tissue Type on Larval Growth in Calliphora augur and Lucilia cuprina (Diptera: Calliphoridae)

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The size of fly larvae is an important variable in the use of these insects to estimate postmortem interval. Furthermore, the nutritional intake of larvae is likely to vary subject to the part of a corpse on which they are feeding. A study was therefore conducted to investigate the effect of type of food substrate on larval growth in two species of forensically important Australian blowflies. After collection on sheep's liver in the laboratory, different groups of larvae of Lucilia cuprina (Wiedemann) and Calliphora augur (Fabricius) were grown on sheep's liver, meat, and brains, and their body lengths compared. Results indicated that the development of larvae fed sheep's liver was adversely affected compared with larvae fed meat and brain; they moulted later, reached maximum length more slowly and sometimes produced significantly smaller pupae. These findings, similar to those of another recent study, have obvious implications for postmortem interval determinations. Estimates may be considerably skewed if the site of collection of larvae at a death scene contains tissue types different to those used in reference experiments. We therefore recommend caution in forensic analyses that interpret crime scene data using developmental studies performed with a single type of larval food substrate.
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Keywords: Calliphora augur; Lucilia (Phaenicia) cuprina; development; forensic entomology; forensic science; larvae; postmortem interval; substrate; tissue type

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute for Conservation Biology, School of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia

Publication date: 2006-05-01

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