Insects on the spot

Blowflies are often among the first insects at the scene when something dies, laying eggs on the body within minutes of death. The developmental stage, or instar, of blowfly eggs and larvae can indicate when death occurred.

Development through instars depends on temperature—higher temperatures result in faster development. If temperature data are known for the scene of a death investigation, forensic entomologists can estimate the age of the flies there. This can give investigators a good idea of when a person died, or when the dead body was brought to the scene.

Blow fly life cycle
Blow fly life cycleCourtesy Cleveland Museum of Natural History

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