Forensic Biology
Forensic Entomology Helps in Determining Child Abuse. How?

Forensic Entomology Helps in Determining Child Abuse. How?

Forensic entomology is the field of forensic science where we use insects and various arthropods that feed on dead bodies to help in a legal investigation such as medicolegal (criminal), urban (civil and criminal), and stored product pest (civil). In this article, we will be studying the use of forensic entomology to determine child abuse.

The branch of forensic entomology comprises of various categories. The one we will be discussing here is medicolegal forensic entomology to determine Child abuse. It deals with the involvement of arthropods in incidents nearby felonies, generally violent crimes like suicide, rape, murder, etc. It might include other acts of violations like contraband trafficking and physical abuse. It is also defined as medico-criminal forensic entomology.

Along with the topic mentioned above, we will also discuss the life cycle of blowflies that helps estimate PMI and the other vital indications to lead the investigation in the right direction.

What is Child Abuse?

 An individual below maturity, i.e., under the age of 18 years, is termed a child. Child sexual abuse is primarily stated as sensual body contact by any individual of any age and sex with an underaged child.

Child abuse covers an extensive array of acts. In broad, lawful and study explanations of child abuse need two elements:

1) sexual events linking a child

2) an “abusive condition” such as intimidation or a significant age gap between them, representing a consensual lack.

In broad terms, child abuse can be stated as sexual interaction with a child that happens under any of three circumstances:

1. Large age or maturational difference occurs between the companions. 

2. The mate is in a position of power over or in a care-taking connection with a child. 

3. The act is accepted against a child using strength or deceit.

Role of Forensic Entomology to Determine a Child Abuse

When a child’s dead body is found covered with insects, with the observations of insect types, we also look out for the insect eggs’ location on the dead body, i.e., in the wound areas or near the natural opening of the body like ears, eyes, nose, anus, etc.

If the location matches with the wounds that come when a child becomes the victim of abuse, we can consider it a child abuse case. The abrasions, bruises, damaged soft tissues, bones, and skin altogether makes the insect laying areas on the carcass of a child.

The utilization of forensic entomology helps the investigator to determine from the time when the abuse last occurred. In severe cases, we prefer Post-Mortem Interval. The pupae and larvae of a blowfly are formed that might produce substantial evidence to estimate the length of the negligence of a child.

The Life Cycle of Blowfly

Blowflies are fascinated by a decaying dead body. It arrives a few minutes after the death of a human/animal. They complete their metamorphosis that includes egg, larva, pupa, and an adult.

The 5 stages of Blowfly Life cycle are:

Stage One: Adult blowflies lay their eggs on the dead body, especially near wound areas and around natural openings like eyes, nose, anus, ears, etc.

Stage TwoEgg hatches into maggots/larva within 12-24 hours.

Stage ThreeLarvae of flies grow continuously and shed their exoskeletons while passing through different instar stages. These are:

  • 1st Instar: 5 mm long after 1.8 days
  • 2nd Instar: 10 mm long after 2.5 days.
  • 3rd Instar: 14-16 mm long after 6-8 days.

Stage FourThe 17 mm long larvae grow into pupa after getting burrowed in the surrounding soil.

Stage FiveAn adult fly comes out from the case of pupa after 6-8 days.


The field of Forensic Entomology is an expanding and colossal field. The more the cases, the more the researches development. 

One can use insects to indicate neglect/abuse because it is not common in the present scenario. Sometimes, the widespread culture makes it a good and strict factor in legal cases. 

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