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Determination of the Thermal Maxima of Phormia regina (Meigen) Larvae

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Forensic entomology is the use of insects in legal investigations, and relies heavily upon calculating the time of colonization (TOC) of insects on remains using temperature-dependent growth rates. If a body is exposed to temperatures that exceed an insect’s critical

Forensic entomology is the use of insects in legal investigations, and relies heavily upon calculating the time of colonization (TOC) of insects on remains using temperature-dependent growth rates. If a body is exposed to temperatures that exceed an insect’s critical limit, TOC calculations could be severely affected. The determination of critical thermal limits of forensically-relevant insects is crucial, as their presence or absence could alter the overall postmortem interval (PMI) calculation. This study focuses on the larvae of Phormia regina (Meigen) (Diptera: Calliphoridae), a forensically relevant blow fly common across North America. Three populations were examined (Arizona, Colorado, and New Jersey), and five day old larvae were exposed to one of two temperatures, 39℃ or 45℃, for five hours. Across all colonies, the survival rate was lower at 45℃ than 39℃, in both larval and emerged adult stages. The Arizona colony experienced a harsher drop in survival rates at 45℃ than either the Colorado or New Jersey colonies. This research suggests that the range of 39℃ - 45℃ approaches the critical thermal limit for P. regina, but does not yet exhibit a near or complete failure of survivorship that a critical temperature would cause at this duration of time. However, there is opportunity for further studies to examine this critical temperature by investigating other temperatures within the 39℃ - 45℃ range and at longer durations of time in these temperatures.

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2022-05