Forensically important entomological specimens recovered from 95 forensic cases of human cadavers from April 1993 to May 1996 in Malaysia were identified and analysed. The results indicated that 73.7% of these specimens were Chrysomya species, occurring either as single or mixed infestations. Of these, the most prominent species were Ch megacephala (F.) and Ch rufifacies (Macquart). Other fly maggots recovered included Sarcophaga spp., Lucilia spp. and Hermetia spp., mostly occurring together with other calliphorine flies. A member of Muscidae fly, Ophyra spp. was also recovered for the first time.
A burned human remain was found outdoor (5º 27' N, 100º 16' E) in Penang Island. The deceased was last seen alive on 23 April 2010 at 2230 h and was found burned on 24 April 2010 at 1920 h. Larval aggregation of second instar Chrysomya megacephala was observed on the chest of the deceased.
A basic tenet of forensic entomology is development data of an insect can be used to predict the time of colonization (TOC) by insect specimens collected from remains, and this prediction is related to the time of death and/or time of placement (TOP). However, few datasets have been evaluated to determine their accuracy or precision. The black soldier fly, Hermetia illucens (L.) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) is recognized as an insect of forensic importance. This study examined the accuracy and precision of several development datasets for the black soldier fly by estimating the TOP of five sets of human and three sets of swine remains in San Marcos and College Station, TX, respectively. Data generated from this study indicate only one of these datasets consistently (time-to-prepupae 52%; time-to-eclosion 75%) produced TOP estimations that occurred within a day of the actual TOP of the remains. It is unknown if the precolonization interval (PreCI) of this species is long, but it has been observed that the species can colonize within 6 d after death. This assumption remains untested by validation studies. Accounting for this PreCI improved accuracy for the time-to-prepupae group, but reduced accuracy in the time-to-eclosion group. The findings presented here highlight a need for detailed, forensic-based development data for the black soldier fly that can reliably and accurately be used in casework. Finally, this study outlines the need for a basic understanding of the timing of resource utilization (i.e., duration of the PreCI) for forensically relevant taxa so that reasonable corrections may be made to TOC as related to minimum postmortem interval (mPMI) estimates.
In estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) using maggots obtained during autopsy, the forensic entomologist makes decisions regarding the effects of low-temperature storage of the body on the insects. In this case report, a corpse was found in an abandoned house in the residential area of Bukit Mertajam, Penang, Malaysia. The maggots were found to be alive inside the mouth of the deceased although the corpse had been in the morgue cooler for 12 days. The maggots were reared and identified as Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius). The emerged adult flies were kept as a stock colony, and the duration of development under the indoor fluctuating temperature regime was studied. The total duration of developmental process of this species was 9.5 ± 0.5 days, and the PMI estimated was 3.2 ± 0.6 days. This case report demonstrates the survival of Ch. megacephala maggots for 12 days and their growth inside the morgue cooler.
A case of true enteric myiasis in a 7-year-old girl is reported. Two larvae were obtained from the vomitus of the patient. After processing and identification, the larvae were found to be those of Hermetia illucens (Soldier Fly). This is the first case of true enteric myiasis due to these larvae in Malaysia.
In forensic entomology, larval rearing usually includes the presence of biological contaminants including scuttle flies (Diptera: Phoridae). Scuttle flies are recognized as forensically important insects and have been reported causing nuisance and contamination in laboratory environments. This paper reports for the first time the finding of multiple scuttle fly species affecting colonies of third instar larvae of the Oriental latrine blowfly, Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) (Diptera: Calliphoridae), reared indoors at the Forensic Science Simulation Site, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Adult scuttle flies were discovered inside a rearing container after the emergence of adult C. megacephala., The scuttle fly species are Megaselia scalaris (Loew), M. spiracularis Schmitz and Puliciphora borinquenensis (Wheeler). Notes on the life history and biology of these species are discussed herein.
Isomyia paurogonita Fang & Fan, 1986 (Diptera: Calliphoridae), a rare species of the subfamily Rhiniinae (tribe Cosminini) was recorded for the first time in Malaysia. We collected one male and two females during a field trip conducted at Genting Highland, Pahang, peninsular Malaysia in May 2011. A 3-day old cow liver was offered as attractant and dipterans collected were transferred to the laboratory for specimens processing and identification. The adults of I. paurogonita were attracted to the odour and then captured by using a sweep net. Isomyia paurogonita was also recorded from two other localities in Peninsular and Malaysian Borneo, namely Gombak Utara, Selangor and Sibu, Sarawak.
Megaselia scalaris (Loew) (Diptera: Phoridae) provides great evidential value in estimating the postmortem interval (PMI) compared with other dipterans due to its common occurrence on human corpses both indoors and in concealed environments. Studies have focused on the effect of temperature, larval diet, and photoperiod on the development of the species; however, knowledge of M. scalaris development at different moisture levels is insufficient. This study aimed to investigate the effects of substrate moisture on the larval development time, pupal recovery, pupal weight, adult emergence, and adult head width of M. scalaris. The larvae were reared in five replicates on substrates with six moisture levels ranging from 50 to 90%. Larvae and puparia were sampled daily, and the collection time, number, and weight were recorded, measured, and then compared using multivariate analysis of variance with a post hoc least significant difference test. Larvae developed most quickly (3.75 ± 0.04 d) at 50% substrate moisture; the larvae were able to survive in extremely wet substrates (90% moisture), but the development time was significantly longer (6.48 ± 0.19 d). Moisture greatly influenced the pupation rate and adult emergence but showed a weak effect on the pupae weight and adult head width. Due to the significance of moisture on the development of M. scalaris, PMI estimation using M. scalaris with cadavers of different moisture content must be carefully conducted to avoid inaccuracy.
Cosmopolitan scuttle fly, Megaselia scalaris (Loew) (Diptera: Phoridae) is one of the commonest forensic species recorded colonizing human corpse indoors and in concealed environment. The occurrence of this species in such environments provides a higher evidential value to assist estimation of postmortem interval (PMI) compared to other forensically important dipterans. However, developmental and size data of M. scalaris are still lacking and they are derived from a limited range of thermal values. The objective of this study is to develop the growth model of M. scalaris by emphasizing the size range of larvae and puparia at different constant temperatures. This species was reared in six replicates at eight varying constant temperatures ranging from 23 to 36 °C and cow's liver was provided as food source. Larvae and puparia were sampled at set time intervals and measured by their length and weight. Because interpretation of forensic entomological evidence is subject to application of different techniques, development of M. scalaris is expressed herein by using developmental table, length/morphological stage diagrams and linear/nonlinear estimation methods. From the findings, it is very important to highlight that sexual dimorphism of M. scalaris during post feeding larva and pupa stage could be observed based on size and developmental periods. Mean length and weight ratios of male to female puparia are approximately 0.8 and 0.3-0.5, respectively, indicating sexual dimorphism of this species. Developmental period in female are 4.0-11.4 h (post feeding larval stage), 3.7-24.0 h (pupal stage), and 3.0-20.1 h (total developmental period) longer in male. Due to this dimorphism, PMI estimation using M. scalaris post feeding larva or puparium specimens must be carried out carefully by to avoid inaccuracy and misinterpretation.
In forensic entomology, breeding of fly larvae in a controlled laboratory environment using animal tissue is a common technique to obtain insect developmental time for the estimation of postmortem interval. Previous studies on growth media are mostly on the effect of different diets on fly development. However, the interaction effects between temperature and food type used have not been explored. The objective of this study was to compare the use of cow's liver agar and raw liver on the development of a forensically important fly, Megaselia scalaris (Loew). This study also determined the interaction between different temperatures and different food types on the growth of this species. A total of 100 M. scalaris eggs were transferred into each of the two media mentioned above. Liver agar was prepared by adding dried ground liver into nutrient agar, whilst raw liver was naturally prepared from the same animal source. This experiment was conducted at 27, 30 and 33 °C in an incubator in a continuously dark condition. Length and weight of larvae, puparia and adult samples were determined. Total developmental times for larvae feeding on liver agar at each temperature were approximately 7-15 h slower than those feeding on raw liver. Survival rates were almost equal in both diets but were lower at 33 °C. Mean larva length in both diets did not differ significantly at all temperatures, but larvae feeding on liver agar had lower mean weight values than those in raw liver at 30 and 33 °C. The effect of temperature was significant in female puparia weight and male adult weight whereas the effect of diet types was significant in both male and female puparia size and weight. Interaction effects of temperature and food type on M. scalaris puparium size and adult weight were significant, indicating that puparium size and adult weight depended on both food type and temperature. This experiment highlighted the use of cow's liver agar as an alternative diet to breed M. scalaris in the laboratory and the importance of considering the interaction effect between temperatures and food types when deciding the most suitable medium in fly larva rearing.
In addition to causing myiasis in humans, Megaselia spiracularis Schmitz has also been reported as a forensically important fly. In this study, we presented the morphology of all larval instars and puparium of M. spiracularis using scanning electron microscopy. The first instar larva was composed of 12 segments. Antennae and maxillary palp complex were visible. Two spiracular slits could be seen at the posterior spiracle. The branch of posterior spiracular hairs was approximately equal to the palm-formed base in length. Second and third larval instars were very similar to first instar, except for the presence of anterior spiracle. The labium of the second instar larva was triangular and ventrally curved, whereas it was a bilobed structure and the tip forked in the first instar. The bubble membrance comprised of ≈40 globules presented at the third instar larvae. Puparia showed a retracted cephalic region and a pair of pupal respiratory horns on the dorsum. A comparison of the morphological features between immature stages of M. spiracularis and M. scalaris, a forensically important fly indoors in Germany, Malaysia, and China, was discussed.
Donald Henry Colless (24 August 1922–16 February 2012) was a taxonomist at the Australian National Insect Collection (ANIC) from 1960 until his retirement in 1987. He continued working in ANIC as an Honorary Fellow until his death in 2012. Don’s main scientific interests were in the taxonomy and biology of true flies, and in the theory of phylogenetic reconstruction and classification. Don was trained in entomology at the University of Sydney, and spent nearly two decades of his early career in Asia studying mosquitoes and disease transmission, first in the Army during the Second World War in New Guinea and Borneo (1942–45), then after the war in North Borneo (1947–1952) and as a lecturer in the Department of Parasitology at the University of Malaya (1952–1960) in Singapore. We list the 127 scientific papers and book chapters that Don published during his scientific career that spanned 64 years. Six of these papers were published in the prestigious international journal Nature, and he was Chief Curator of the ANIC from 1971–1977. Don had extremely broad taxonomic interests, publishing on the taxonomy of 18 families of Diptera that spanned the phylogenetic breadth of the order. He described as new to science the fly families Perissommatidae and Axiniidae, thirteen new genera and over 120 species and, with David McAlpine, authored the Diptera chapters in both editions of The Insects of Australia (Melbourne University Press, 1970 and 1991). He published a number of influential critiques of cladistic theory in the 1960's and 1970's, and advocated a phenetic approach to the discovery of taxonomic groups, and phylogenetic reconstruction.
The stages of decomposition and the faunal succession on rabbit carcasses in three different habitats, namely jungle, rural, and highland areas, were studied. Three New Zealand White rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) carcasses weighing ∼2 kg were sampled daily until the decomposition process was completed. Representative specimens of adult flies, larvae, pupa, and mites were collected from the carcasses and processed in the laboratory. There were differences in decomposition rate and faunal succession between the carcasses. The fastest rate of decomposition was recorded in rural area, and the slowest rate of decomposition was recorded in highland area. The carcasses exhibited the same pattern of colonization by adult flies, but the dominant species of larvae and adult flies on each carcass in specific habitats were different. The primary species of flies recorded in jungle were Chrysomya megacephala F., Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart), Chrysomya chani Kurahashi, Chrysomya villenuevi Patton, Chrysomya nigripes Aubertin, Chrysomya pinguis (Walker), Hemipyrellia ligurriens (Wiedemann), Hemipyrellia tagaliana (Bigot), Hypopyiopsis fumipennis (Walker), Hypopygiopsis violacea (Macquart), and Hydrotaea spinigera Stein represented by both adults and larvae. Musca domestica L., Atherigona sp., Lioproctia pattoni (Senior-White), Lioproctia saprianovae Pape & Bänziger, and Seniorwhitea princeps (Wiedemann) were represented by adults only. The biodiversity of flies in the rural area were C. megacephala, C. rufifacies, H. ligurriens, Fannia canicularis L., Hydrotaea chalcogaster (Wiedemann), and Hyd. spinigera represented by both adults and larvae, meanwhile M. domestica, Atherigona sp., Boettcherisca peregrina (Robineau-Desvoidy), Parasarcophaga taenionota Wiedemann, Parasarcophaga scopariiformis Senior-White, and S. princeps were represented by adults only. The species of flies collected in the highland area were Lucilia porphyrina (Walker), C. megacephala, C. rufifacies, C. villenuevi, C. pinguis, H. ligurriens, Hyd. spinigera, Hyd. chalcogaster, F. canicularis, and Boettcherisca highlandica Kurahashi & Tan represented by both adults and larvae, whereas C. nigripes, Chrysomya thanomthini Kurahashi & Tumrasvin, M. domestica, Atherigona sp., Parasarcophaga albiceps Meigen, P. taenionota, Sepsidae, Phoridae, and Millichidae were represented by adults only. Faunal succession followed the sequence of dominant flies, i.e., Calliphoridae, Sarcophagidae, Muscidae, Sepsidae, and lastly Stratiomyidae for jungle, or Sepsidae for rural and highland studies. Mites, from suborders Mesostigmata, Prostigmata, Astigmatina, and Oribatida, were also recovered throughout decomposition, which could be used for future implementation in forensic investigations. The data obtained from this study could provide more accurate indicators for local forensic scientists in solving criminal cases especially on the determination of time and primary location of death.
The distributions of flies are not only confined to ground level but can also be at higher altitudes. Here, we report three forensic cases involving dipterans in high-rise buildings in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Case 1 involved a corpse of adult female found at the top floor of a fifteen-story apartment. Case 2 dealt with a body of a 75-year-old female discovered in a bedroom on the eleventh floor of an eighteen-story building, while Case 3 was a 52-year-old male found in his fifth floor shop house. Interestingly, entomological analysis revealed that all corpses were infested with similar Dipterans: Megaselia scalaris (Loew) (Diptera: Phoridae), Synthesiomyia nudiseta (Wulp) (Diptera: Muscidae) and sarcophagid (Diptera: Sarcophagidae). The first two species were commonly associated with corpses found indoors at ground level. We noted the additional occurrence of blowflies Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and Chrysomya rufifacies Macquart (Diptera: Calliphoridae) larvae in Case 2 and Case 3, respectively. Findings from this study are significant as they demonstrate that certain groups of fly can locate dead bodies even in high-rise buildings. Forensic entomofauna research on corpses found at high elevation is scarce and our study has highlighted the peculiarity of the fly species involved in Malaysia.
This paper discusses the colonization of the stratiomyid species Ptecticus melanurus (Walker) (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) in monkey carrion and its potential for the determination of the minimum time since death (PMI). A study was conducted in a tropical forest at Bangi, Malaysia from 13 November 2009 to 8 June 2011. Twelve monkey carcasses (Macaca fascicularis Raffles) were used and divided in equal number into three different field trials. Adults of P. melanurus were first observed on monkey carrions on the second day the carcasses were placed in the field while their penultimate instar larvae were found in the wet soil under and beside carcass from day 8 to 31 days postmortem.
The use of Chrysomya megacephala larvae for detecting malathion for diagnosing the cause of death was investigated. This could prove useful when the visceral organs have become liquefied during decomposition and therefore cannot be sampled. A field experiment was conducted in which C. megacephala were allowed to colonise naturally the corpses of rabbits that had died of malathion poisoning. The concentration of malathion increased gradually during the larval stages of C. megacephala reaching the maximum concentration in the third instar larvae. The concentration of malathion declined during prepupal stage and reached its lowest level among tenerals. The average malathion concentrations in C. megacephala growing in poisoned rabbit corpses left in a sunlit habitat were significantly higher (p<0.05) than those growing on poisoned rabbits left in a shaded habitat. The concentrations of malathion in the different stages of development of C. megacephala were moderately correlated (r = 0.51-0.69) with the administered doses as well as with those estimated in visceral organs. Thus, it would not be reliable to suggest the formulation of mathematical algorithms for relating the concentration of malathion found in the different stages of development of C. megacephala with those found in the visceral organs. However, in the context of forensic investigation, the qualitative detection of malathion in C. megacephala may prove useful in diagnosing the cause of death, since malathion is a common cause of accidental and suicidal deaths.
This study was conducted to examine the effect of malathion on the development of Chrysomya megacephala. A total of 12 adult Sprague-Dawley rats was divided into 4 groups. Each animal in the 4 groups was given orally 0 (control), 10, 25 and 50ml/kg body weight of malathion, respectively. Chrysomya megacephala larvae were then allowed to grow on the liver of carcass. Larvae development was estimated by means of weight and length, time of adult emergence and survival rate. Results indicated that for the first 6 to 30 hours, larvae from control group developed more rapidly than larvae feeding on tissue containing malathion. However, the 3 doses of malathion did not exhibit significant impact on larvae length and weight. The time required for adult emergence was significantly greater for malathion-treated colony which was 10 days compared to 7 days in control colony. Control larvae of C. megacephala had higher survival rate compared to larvae exposed to the three different doses of malathion. Analysis of the tissues indicated that all rats and fly samples were positive for malathion. Malathion concentration was highest in liver. It was concluded that the presence of malathion altered the development rate of C. megacephala and thus disrupted normal postmortem interval estimation.
The Strongylophthalmyia punctata subgroup, comprising 24 species with armored fore femora, and restricted primarily to SE Asia, is reviewed. Eighteen new species, S. albisternum, n. sp. (Thailand), S. borneensis, n. sp. (Borneo), S. caestus, n. sp. (Philippines), S. darlingi, n. sp. (Sumatra), S. federeri, n. sp. (Philippines), S. hauseri, n. sp. (Thailand, Vietnam), S. indochinensis, n. sp. (Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam), S. inundans, n. sp. (Philippines), S. laosensis, n. sp. (Laos), S. lowi, n. sp. (Peninsular Malaysia), S. malayensis, n. sp. (Peninsular Malaysia), S. nigripalpis, n. sp. (Peninsular Malaysia), S. oxybeles, n. sp. (Sumatra), S. pappi, n. sp. (Thailand), S. phillindablank, n. sp. (China), S. sichuanica, n. sp. (China), S. sumatrana, n. sp. (Sumatra), and S. thailandica, n. sp. (Thailand) are described and illustrated, S. microstyla Shatalkin and S. punctata Hennig are redescribed based on examination of the holotypes, and a key to species of the subgroup is presented. A general taxonomic overview of the genus Strongylophthalmyia is given with discussion of and keys to proposed species groups.
The bee fly genus Euchariomyia Bigot is reviewed and new records from the Oriental Region are given. Five names (for four species-level taxa) have been associated with species in the genus. Examinations of types, as well as homotypic and topotypic specimens, shows all five names to belong to a highly variable single species, Euchariomyia dives Bigot. The following species are here shown to be the same as Euchariomyia dives Bigot: Bombylius pulchellus Wulp, 1880, Bombylius scintillans Brunetti, 1909, and Bombylius brunettii Senior-White, 1922, n. syn. The genus is known primarily from the southern and eastern Oriental Region and ranges into the Palaearctic in eastern China. We extend the distribution of the genus with new records in the southeastern Oriental Region [Indonesia (Sumatra), Laos, Peninsular Malaysia, and Vietnam].