Flies such as blowflies, blue bottle flies, green bottle flies, etc., get attracted towards a dead body, complete their life cycle, and feed on the body to decompose it. The metamorphosis of the flies controls the rate of body decomposition, and the adult flies develop from the maggots (second stage of their life cycle). In this article, we will study the factors affecting the age and development of maggots.
Several factors directly or indirectly impact the age and development of maggots, such as temperature, season, species, toxicology, and death scenario. The favorable conditions of the environment lead to a fast decomposition rate of the dead organism, whereas unfavorable circumstances result in a slow decomposition rate due to a gradual rate of maggots’ growth and development.
Along with this, we will also study Post-Mortem Interval and how it differs from the time of death. Without any delay, let’s start!
Factors Contributing Towards Age and Development of Maggots
- Temperature: The age and development of maggots are majorly affected by temperature. The observations of the dead body decomposition conclude a fast decomposition during warm temperature and turn slow when the temperature is low. It is because the development of maggots is fast during warm temperatures but becomes slow at low temperatures. Flies need a warm temperature to complete a successful metamorphosis at a fast rate.
- Season: When an animal/human dies, the dead body in an open area attracts the insects such as flies for the process of decomposition. The availability of the flies depends upon the season. In summers, the flies’ availability is more because of the favorable temperature that supports a favorable development of maggots’. In contrast, in winters, the metamorphosis rate slows down due to a gradual development of maggots. Therefore, the availability of flies is not much, and the decomposition occurs very slowly.
- Species: The development and age of maggots are dependent on the nutrition obtained from the dead organism. A dead human body has a more exposed area along with soft skin. Therefore, it becomes easy for the flies to obtain nutrition for the development of maggots, and the decomposition rate becomes fast, whereas if the dead body is of any animal, due to the presence of hairy skin, i.e., fur. It becomes difficult for the flies to obtain nutrition for maggots’ development, and the decomposition rate becomes slow.
- Poison: If the dead body is ingested with any drug, flies to obtain nutrition for its metamorphosis feed on the dead body. The ingested drug accelerates the age and development rate of maggots and the life cycle. This increases the rate of decomposition and disturbs the actual time of death.
- Death Scenario: The death scenario is one of the essential factors affecting the age and development of maggots. The more wounds on a dead body, the more the amount of blood flows, the more nutrition the flies get that accelerates the age and development of maggots and hence their metamorphosis. Death scenarios such as brutal sexual assault, murder by making the person jump from a building or firing a bullet, etc.
Forensic entomology helps us determine the time since death, i.e., the duration of time between the death and discovery of the dead body). This is known as Post-Mortem Interval or PMI.
PMI and time of death are not the same. Post-mortem interval is limited to the duration of time that the dead body has been exposed to an open environment that will permit the insects to start their activity.
In contrast, the time of death is the time when the person was killed. PMI can be estimated by the pattern of insect succession, the life cycle of insects, and the influential variables, i.e., the factors affecting the age and development of maggots’.