Evolution of Forensic Entomotoxicology

David R. Wallace*

Evolution of Forensic Entomotoxicology.

Most individuals first think of insects when they hear the word ‘entomology,’ yet entomology is a much broader topic involved with the study of multiple organisms such as millipedes, centipedes, arachnids and other insects as well as crustaceans. The forensic application is how these organisms can be used in legal investigations.

Most often, forensic entomology deals with feeding insects which aid in determining the
time of death, but there is more information that can be collected from the action of insects on
dead and decaying flesh. Subsets of the forensic entomology field can be subdivided into three
subsets: urban, stored product and medico-legal.

The beginnings of forensic entomology can be traced back to the 1200’s in China, with Sung Tzu as the ‘first’ forensic entomologist. Other notable forensic entomologists have been Francesco Redi (1600’s), Bergert d’Arbois (1800’s) and Hermann Reinhard (late 1800’s).

Key advancements in forensic entomology have only happened over the last 150 years. A significant amount of work has been submitted by Reinhard and Hofmann in the late 1800’s in Germany and France, respectively.

Initially, arthropods were valued for their ability to assist in determining the postmortem interval. Later, arthropod use became valuable in determining the cause of death due to the presence of drugs or poisoning.

The ability of arthropods to help define the time of death is astounding. Conventional measurements such as body temperature and rigor are only accurate for a couple of days and are significantly altered due to differences in ambient temperature.

Toxicol Forensic Med Open J. 2017; SE(1): Se1-Se4. doi: 10.17140/TFMOJ-SE-1-e001