Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 297–305 | Cite as

Occurrence of Poecilochirus austroasiaticus (Acari: Parasitidae) in forensic autopsies and its application on postmortem interval estimation

  • Alejandro González MedinaEmail author
  • Lucas González Herrera
  • M. Alejandra Perotti
  • Gilberto Jiménez Ríos


Despite the fact that mites were used at the dawn of forensic entomology to elucidate the postmortem interval, their use in current cases remains quite low for procedural reasons such as inadequate taxonomic knowledge. A special interest is focused on the phoretic stages of some mite species, because the phoront-host specificity allows us to deduce in many occasions the presence of the carrier (usually Diptera or Coleoptera) although it has not been seen in the sampling performed in situ or in the autopsy room. In this article, we describe two cases where Poecilochirus austroasiaticus Vitzthum (Acari: Parasitidae) was sampled in the autopsy room. In the first case, we could sample the host, Thanatophilus ruficornis (Küster) (Coleoptera: Silphidae), which was still carrying phoretic stages of the mite on the body. That attachment allowed, by observing starvation/feeding periods as a function of the digestive tract filling, the establishment of chronological cycles of phoretic behavior, showing maximum peaks of phoronts during arrival and departure from the corpse and the lowest values in the phase of host feeding. From the sarcosaprophagous fauna, we were able to determine in this case a minimum postmortem interval of 10 days. In the second case, we found no Silphidae at the place where the corpse was found or at the autopsy, but a postmortem interval of 13 days could be established by the high specificity of this interspecific relationship and the departure from the corpse of this family of Coleoptera.


Forensic entomology Silphidae Parasitidae Thanatophilus ruficornis Poecilochirus austroasiaticus Postmortem interval 



We thank Krzysztof Solarz (Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland) for providing us with a valuable identification key of domestic mites and the assitance of an anonymous reviewer for the confirmation of mites species and his suggestions for the improvement of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro González Medina
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lucas González Herrera
    • 2
  • M. Alejandra Perotti
    • 3
  • Gilberto Jiménez Ríos
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Legal Medicine of GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Department of Forensic Medicine and Physical AnthropologyFaculty of MedicineGranadaSpain
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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