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Nocturnal Oviposition Behavior of Carrion Flies in Rural and Urban Environments: Methodological Problems and Forensic Implications

NCJ Number
Canadian Society of Forensic Science Journal Volume: 40 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2007 Pages: 173-182
Trevor Stamper; Ronald W. Debry
Date Published
December 2007
10 pages
In order to determine whether flies oviposit on dead bodies at night, an important issue in using fly development in estimating time since death, this study used the night-time exposure of rat carcasses at three sites in the Cincinnati metro region for two field seasons, 2005 and 2006.
The study found that night-time carrion fly ovipositing behavior is apparently unlikely in the Cincinnati area of Ohio. Potentially positive results in the 2005 pilot run were due to methodological problems. Several major factors were found to contribute to contamination of night-time ovipositing experiments before, during, and after exposure. These issues must be addressed by future researchers. Significant issues remain regarding the possibility and prevalence of night-time ovipositing behavior, so further research is needed. Future work should report certain minimum information: time of bait deposition, temperature, humidity, light levels, and bait choices and decomposition stage. Increased sample sizes are critical in determining whether this behavior occurs. The nature of sites must be carefully considered, and they should be defined as rural or urban. Concurrent daytime studies would be useful in identifying which species are generally present at the time of the nocturnal studies; however, they should only be conducted if they can be prevented from contaminating the samples. The methods used for the 2005 and 2006 seasons are described. This includes detailed descriptions of the three sites, any exposure to artificial light at the sites, the bait used, time of exposure, and the sampling procedure. Positive and negative control experiments were conducted prior to the beginning of the field season in order to check for contamination between samples and from outside sources. 1 table and 19 references


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