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Use of Insect Evidence in Criminal InvestigationsDecember 17, 2023 - BY SIFS India

Use of Insect Evidence in Criminal Investigations

Forensic entomology, the study of insects in relation to criminal investigations, is a powerful tool for estimating time of death and providing other valuable forensic data.

Despite its importance, forensic entomology is often overlooked in forensic science and deserves more attention.

In this article, we will delve into the significance of use of insect evidence in criminal investigations, its diverse range of applications, and the advantages that could be gained from establishing a centralized database for forensic entomology.

Additionally, this article will discuss strategies for promoting forensic entomology and increasing its awareness among various organizations and students, further highlighting the importance of this field in criminal investigations. 


Forensic science is a field that encompasses a wide range of scientific disciplines to assist in criminal investigations.

When most people think of forensic science, they probably picture crime scene investigators dusting for fingerprints, analyzing DNA evidence and other advanced techniques associated with high-tech labs.

However, one of the most powerful tools in forensic science is not found in a lab, but in the natural world: insects. This incredibly important field of forensic science is forensic entomology!  

Use of Entomology to Solve Crimes

Forensic entomology is a field of study that uses insects and other arthropods to provide information in criminal investigations.

It is a field that has been used for centuries, but it has only recently gained recognition as a valuable tool in forensic science.

This can involve everything from identifying the species of insects found on a corpse to analyzing the timing and progression of insect colonization to estimate the time of death especially after the traditional 72-hour period when other indicators become less reliable.

This makes forensic entomology a crucial tool in criminal investigations as it provides a more reliable method than traditional pathological indicators.

Applications of Entomology in Forensic Sciences

 In criminal investigations, insects can provide valuable clues in cases involving homicides, suicides, or accidental deaths.

They can be used to estimate the time of death or post-mortem interval through analysis of insect colonization and developmental patterns, determine the location of a crime by analyzing the insect species present, establish whether the body was moved after death, identify the presence of drugs or toxins, and even link suspects to a crime scene. 

The most important factor in forensic entomology is accurate and reliable estimation of the postmortem interval (PMI), which is the time elapsed since death.

PMI estimation is typically based on the developmental stages of the insects associated with the body and the environmental conditions at the crime scene.

Therefore, accurate identification and analysis of insect species collected from crime scenes and their developmental patterns are critical in determining PMI.

The key to use insects in forensic investigations requires knowledge of the regional insect fauna, their life cycles and behavior and succession pattern.

By analyzing the insects present at a crime scene and their stage of development, entomologists can estimate the time of death, movement of a corpse, and even the presence of drugs or toxins in a victim's body. 

For example, blowflies are the first insects to arrive at a dead body, and their development can be used to estimate the time of death.

Other insects, such as beetles and mites, can be used to determine whether a body has been moved or disturbed, or whether it has been exposed to certain chemicals or toxins. 

Current Trends and Future Possibilities of Database Applications in Forensic Entomology 

Database applications in forensic entomology have become increasingly important in recent years, providing valuable information for estimating the time of death or post-mortem interval.

Current trends involve the development of more comprehensive and standardized databases, as well as the integration of multiple types of data to improve accuracy.

The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms also holds promise for the future of database applications in forensic entomology.

However, limitations such as geographic variation and incomplete life history information must be taken into account when using databases in criminal investigations. 

Advantages of Forensic Entomology Databases

Centralized Forensic Entomology Database Implementation

The creation of a centralized database can form the basis of forensic entomology across a nation by providing a common platform for data storage, retrieval, and collaboration.

It can help forensic entomologists to identify insect species, their developmental stages, and their distribution in different regions of a nation.

This information can be used to establish baseline data on the presence and abundance of different insect species in different seasons and regions.

Such data can be used as a reference when investigating crime scenes and can help to identify the origin of insect specimens found on a body or at a crime scene.

The scope of a centralized database for forensic entomology can vary depending on its intended purpose and the resources available. In some cases, a centralized database may be based on a state-wise or district-wise system, where data is collected and stored by region.

This can help to facilitate collaboration between forensic entomologists within the same geographic area, as well as provide a more focused and detailed picture of insect activity in that region.  

State-Wise and District-Wise Implementation of Forensic Entomology Databases 

State-wise databases provide a broad overview of the insect fauna present in a particular state, which can be useful for identifying the general trends and patterns of insect diversity within the state.

However, they may not be as accurate in identifying the specific species of insects found in a particular crime scene or location within the state.

District-wise databases provide more localized information about the insect fauna present in a specific district or area, which can be useful for identifying the specific species of insects found at a crime scene or in a particular location within the district.

However, the accuracy and reliability of the data may depend on the comprehensiveness and quality of the data collection and management practices in the district. 

Both State-wise and district-wise databases can help to capture and store information on the local insect fauna and their seasonal variations, as well as data on the location and timing of different crime scenes.

This information can then be shared with the centralized database, which can help to establish a national repository of information on forensic entomology.

Ultimately, the structure and organization of a centralized database for forensic entomology will depend on the goals of the project, the resources available, and the needs of the user community.

The important thing is to ensure that the database is well-designed, reliable, and accessible to those who need it. 

Strategies to Promote Forensic Entomology 

Forensic entomology is an important and growing field that has numerous applications in legal investigations.

By incorporating it into the curriculum, conducting workshops and seminars, encouraging research, collaborating with forensic organizations and professionals, organizing field trips, participating in national and international conferences on forensic entomology to learn about the latest research, techniques and advancements in this field, organizations can increase awareness and generate interest in forensic entomology among students. 

Forensic entomology is a multidisciplinary field that intersects with other areas such as biology, chemistry, biotechnology and law enforcement.

Encouraging collaboration between these different disciplines can help promote awareness of forensic entomology and its importance in solving criminal cases.

More attention should be given to this field, as it has the potential to provide crucial evidence in investigations and help bring justice to victims and their families. 


Forensic entomology is a powerful tool that can provide valuable information in criminal investigations and often overlooked field in forensic science.

As the field continues to evolve and databases improve, it has the potential to become an even more crucial part of criminal investigations.

The establishment of a centralized database for forensic entomology and strategies to increase awareness among organizations and students can help promote the field and its importance.

However, it is important to note that the development of forensic entomology also requires a strong academic and research infrastructure, trained personnel, and standardized protocols for data collection and analysis.

By highlighting the significance of forensic entomology and its contributions to criminal investigations, we can ensure that this hidden gem of forensic science receives the recognition and attention it deserves. 


1. Forensic Entomology: An Introduction by Dorothy Gennard 

2. Forensic Entomology: The Utility of Arthropods in Legal Investigations, Second Edition by Jason H. Byrd and James L. Castner 

3. Insects and the Life and Death of Trees by Brian K. Wheeler 

4. Crime Scene Insects: Forensic Entomology of the Common European Species by R.H. Byrd and J.M. Amendt 

5. Practical Forensic Entomology: Time of Death, Decomposition, and the Insects Used in Death Investigations" by Dr. Jeffery K. Tomberlin and Dr. Aaron M. Tarone 

6. Forensic Ecology Handbook: From Crime Scene to Court" by Julie Roberts and Nicholas Márquez-Grant 

7. Forensic Ecology Handbook: From Crime Scene to Court" by Julie Roberts and Nicholas Márquez-Grant 

8. Catts EP, Goff ML. Forensic entomology in criminal investigations. Annu Rev Entomol. 1992; 37:253–72. 

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