Blow Flies and the American Diet:Effects of Fat Content on Blow Fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) Development
Forensic entomology is an important field of forensic science that utilizes insect evidence in criminal investigations. Blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) are among the first colonizers of remains and are therefore frequently used in determining the minimum postmortem interval (mPMI). Blow fly development, however, is influenced by a variety of factors including temperature and feeding substrate type. Unfortunately, dietary fat content remains an understudied factor on the development process, which is problematic given the relatively high rates of obesity in the United States. To study the effects of fat content on blow fly development we investigated the survivorship, adult weight and development of Lucilia sericata (Meigen; Diptera: Calliphoridae) and Phormia regina (Meigen; Diptera: Calliphoridae) on ground beef with a 10%, 20%, or 27% fat content. As fat content increased, survivorship decreased across both species with P. regina being significantly impacted. While P. regina adults were generally larger than L. sericata across all fat levels, only L. sericata demonstrated a significant (P < 0.05) difference in weight by sex. Average total development times for P. regina are comparable to averages published in other literature. Average total development times for L. sericata, however, were nearly 50 hours higher. These findings provide insight on the effect of fat content on blow fly development, a factor that should be considered when estimating a mPMI. By understanding how fat levels affect the survivorship and development of the species studied here, we can begin improving the practice of insect evidence analysis in casework.