Journal of Forensic Science and Medicine

: 2016  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 146--150

Lucilia sericata (Meigen) and Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) Development Rate and its Implications for Forensic Entomology

Kapil Verma, Reject Paul 
 Amity Institute of Forensic Sciences, Amity University, Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
Kapil Verma
Amity Institute of Forensic Sciences, Amity University, Noida - 201 306, Uttar Pradesh


Forensic entomology is basically a science that is based on the scientific study of the invasion and succession pattern of arthropods with their developmental stages of different species found on the decomposed cadavers during legal investigations. The developmental rate of Lucilia sericata and Chrysomya megacephala was studied in beef liver for the correlation of time duration in each phase with the temperature and climate. The obtained data belong to L. sericata at temperatures between 22°C and 26°C (mean - 24°C) and relative humidity 50% ±10% and C. megacephala at temperatures between 23°C and 27°C (mean - 25°C) and relative humidity 55% ±10%. From the analysis of results, it was observed that in the climatic conditions of the study area, time since death assessment involving L. sericata was found to be with a potential of maximum 10-11 days and C. megacephala with 8-9 days. The data emerged as results from the present work would be beneficial for investigations involving decomposed dead body remains for the assessment of time since death.

How to cite this article:
Verma K, Paul R. Lucilia sericata (Meigen) and Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) Development Rate and its Implications for Forensic Entomology.J Forensic Sci Med 2016;2:146-150

How to cite this URL:
Verma K, Paul R. Lucilia sericata (Meigen) and Chrysomya megacephala (Fabricius) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) Development Rate and its Implications for Forensic Entomology. J Forensic Sci Med [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Dec 2 ];2:146-150
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After death, the colonization of a corpse by insects persists during the evolution of decomposition from the first few minutes until the bones resemble the bleached white stage. [1] Successional patterns of insect invasion may provide postmortem interval (PMI) indications over longer time intervals. For shorter periods, however, developmental rates of larvae are used. [2] The cadaver can be colonized by a various number of arthropods, most important are the Diptera (flies). [3] Within the Diptera order, families such as Calliphoridae and Muscidae have a great relevance as forensic indicators. [4] Different authors have, however, reported varying minimum development times within and among blowfly species. [5],[6],[7]

The development of these flies on the cadaver is affected by several factors, temperature being the most important, affecting the rate of development and may cause diapause. [8] The geographical region, season, and climate obviously have a major effect on arrival times, decomposition of dead bodies, and colonization of different species of insects. [9],[10] Therefore, the further studies within each region also will be warranted.

Due to nonavailability of human bodies for decomposition studies, a wide array of different animal carcasses has been used to simulate humans by several workers from time to time. [11],[12],[13],[14] However, forensic entomology has not been commonly used by the crime scene investigators to help solve crimes in India. In India, there are very few forensic entomology analysts or scientists actively engaged in forensic entomology. [15],[16],[17],[18]

The estimation of PMI is based on few valid assumptions, and errors in any of these assumptions can lead to wrong estimates of time since death. Investigators should not be completely dependent on the few baseline studies. [19] This implies that data generated in one area should not be used to determine the time of death in a different region. Databases should be developed in every region, in which insects are being used to determine the time of death. There is a need to generate the much needed basic data so that this science can be put to proper use in India as well. [20] There has been no elaborate forensic entomological study on the insects of the Uttar Pradesh region. Thus, this study is carried out to fill this void.

 Materials and Methods

The study was conducted in the month of March and April, 2012, at the university laboratory, (28°34′47″ N, 77°19′47″ E). Study and collection of entomological evidence were done under the guidance of an experienced faculty. The fresh beef liver (Bubalus bubalis) was collected from the meat shop to avoid any involvement of already laid eggs or grown larvae of flies. [21] Beef liver was subjected to collection of flies in an open environment. Different species of flies were collected with the help of insect net from the exposed meat. In total, 5 kg of beef liver (local meat shop) and 5 kg vermiculite were purchased (Rajdeep Agri Products, New Delhi, India). The fresh beef livers for rearing were picked up randomly from the meat shop.

Experiments were conducted at constant average temperatures of 22°C -26°C (mean - 24°C)/50% ±10% relative humidity, and 23°C-27°C (mean - 25°C)/55% ±10% relative humidity with a photoperiod of L12:D12. Vermiculite was filled in the rearing chamber. The sample flies procured from the exposed beef liver were identified as Lucilia sericata and Chrysomya megacephala up to the species level with the help of relevant literature. [22],[23],[24] The collected flies were introduced into the container covered with a lid and a net, kept in the rearing chamber. Within the rearing chamber, a small plastic container having 1000-ml capacities was kept with vermiculite with its half depth. Collection and processing of specific material evidence in the form of the insects were done from the beef liver sample periodically. Adults of insects on the surface of the beef liver sample were collected and preserved. At least ten live larvae representing instars 1-3 were removed daily with fine forceps for preservation and identification. Approximately, half of these larvae were preserved in 70% ethanol in vials labeled with the date, time of collection, and stage of the decomposition at the time of collection. The newly hatched larvae were studied from 0-h old and measured for their developmental stages at 12-h intervals. The fresh beef liver was provided as a food source for the larvae. As the larvae grew, five of the largest were removed from the same batch to obtain similar hatching for each generation. They were killed by placing in hot water (90°C) for 3 min to prevent larval shrinkage during the measurement procedure.


The data so collected were analyzed to achieve the aims and objectives of the present study. The observation made regarding different development stages of species L. sericata and C. megacephala reared at an average temperature 22°C-26°C (mean - 24°C)/50% ±10% relative humidity and 23°C-27°C (mean - 25°C)/55% ±10% relative humidity [Table 1]. Ovipositioning time and eggs hatching period in relation to weather are described [Table 2] and [Table 3]. Comparison of life table of L. sericata and C. megacephala studied at different temperatures from different regions of the world is presented in [Table 4] and [Table 5].{Table 1}{Table 2}{Table 3}{Table 4}{Table 5}

 Discussion and Conclusion

The estimation of PMI was relied on the detailed knowledge of the insect's life cycle and the factors that influence it. Estimation of the time since death was based on temperature and humidity conditions. The growth rate of forensically important insects might differ in various regions of the world so that the seasonal variations and the thresholds of different species may not be the same everywhere. A large number of studies have been done on effects of temperatures on the insect's life cycle. [25] They were reported that flies or insect's development was slightly longer at fluctuating temperatures than at a mean, constant temperature. Mearns, [26] Singh et al., [27] and Anderson and VanLaerhoven [28] also investigated the effect of controlled temperature and humidity on the life history, the rate of development of 13 species of flies, representing 9 genera within the families Calliphoridae [Table 5].

L. sericata, at approximately 27°C, eggs take about 18 h to hatch, 3 days for larval development, and 7 days for pupal development, after which the adult fly emerges. [7] Gallagher et al. investigated the developmental rate variation between populations of L. sericata in a series of common garden experiments at 26°C. The distribution of developmental times differed significantly between the three populations. [29]

Bharti et al. [16] observed the effect of temperature on the development of C. megacephala reared in the laboratory at temperatures from 25°C to 28°C; however, in the study of Sukontason et al., at 27°C, the period from egg to adult usually takes 8.5 days. [30] On an average, it was found that it took the insects, 9 days to transform themselves from eggs into adult flies. From the analysis of results, it was observed that in the climatic conditions of the study area, time since death assessment involving L. sericata was found to be with a potential of maximum 10-11 days and C. megacephala with 8-9 days.

This result of the present study also gives a scope for research in the same field for crime scene investigators as they cannot rely on life cycle pattern of above-mentioned flies studied in geographical regions and climatic conditions other than study area. Because, the interpretation of data on the development of flies in different geographical regions other than the place where insect evidence were found would result in a wrong assessment of time since death.

As expected, reference data when compared with other studies show different developmental rates for these two species. Apart from the above-mentioned references, to a greater extent, publications are required, especially with reference to Indian climatic conditions, so that the insect evidence can be used properly in medicolegal cases. According to the literature, India needs to develop its own database for future references. Hence, the data emerged as results from the present study would be beneficial for crime scene investigator for the assessment of time since death. The results of the study are further giving significant correlation to the geographical conditions, climatic and other environmental conditions about thriving of different species of flies such as L. sericata and C. megacephala with a respect to ovipositioning, hatching of eggs, the development of different larval stages, pupation, and completion of the life cycle for the assessment of time since death.[47]

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


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