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Grad Student’s Research on Blow Flies may Help Solve Crimes

Blow fly

Fans of TV shows like CSI and others know that experts known as forensic entomologists can examine insects found on dead bodies to help determine the time of death and whether the body had been moved. For decades the Forensic Anthropology Center at the University of Tennessee, also known as the Body Farm, has observed corpses in different locations — like dumpsters, garbage cans, car trunks, etc. — in order to learn how these conditions affect the insects that are found on them.

After having found dead bodies in suitcases over the last few years, forensics experts in the United Kingdom began wondering whether insects such as blow flies are able to enter suitcases after they are zipped shut, since such knowledge could help determine information about the murder scene. In order to find out, Poulomi Bhadra, a student from King’s College, is studying the behaviour of blow flies around different types of zippers as they try to feed on animal meat or blood.

“I hope that my work being done now will help future cases and future scientists working on this to more accurately give a time of death,” she is quoted as saying.

Dr. Martin Hall, a blowfly specialist at London’s Natural History Museum, is doing similar research

“We want to know how sealed the environment of a suitcase is, and this kind of work shows that a zip can be quite leaky,” he said. “We’ve found that some zips are more leaky than others.”

This video featuring Richard Merritt, a forensic entomologist from Michigan State University, shows how they study blow flies:

Click here for two short videos from the UK.

Read more at:

Lords of the flies: How scientists are using maggots to help solve murders

Flies help solve body-in-suitcase murder probes

How insects can help trap a murderer: Evidence from flies and maggots can help determine how long a person has been dead

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