Colonization of Rabbit Carcasses by Drain Fly Larvae, Psychoda sp. (Diptera: Psychodidae): The First Report



Psychoda sp. is often collected from patchy habitats such as sewers, drains and decomposing organic matters. The discovery of Psychoda sp. in forensic studies indicated that it might have noteworthy value in assisting death investigations.


This study reports on the first finding of Psychoda larvae collected from decomposing rabbit carcasses placed in Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia.


The larvae were first observed on rabbit carcasses and were collected using tweezers and carefully preserved in 70% ethanol. They were subsequently mounted on microscopy slides using Hoyer’s medium and identified as Psychoda sp. morphologically. The identification was also confirmed through a DNA barcoding analysis.


Psychoda sp. larvae were collected on day-10 post-mortem where the rabbit carcasses were at the advanced decay stage of decomposition. The cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene sequences of the larvae had 90% similarity with the Psychoda spp. in the database.


The finding of these larvae on carrion may provide additional valuable insights into forensic entomology and may assist in death investigations.

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We would like to thank MARDI, Cameron Highlands for the permission to conduct research at the study site. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Professor Rüdiger Wagner for the confirmation of genus Psychoda sp. morphologically.


This research was supported by the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Selangor, Malaysia under the grant numbers: 600-IRMI/DANA-KCM-5/3/LESTARI (147/ 2017) and 600-IRMI 5/3/GIP (017/2018) as well as the Higher Institution Centre of Excellence (HICoE) program (MO002-2019), University of Malaya.

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Correspondence to Chong Chin Heo.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The study protocol was approved by the Research Ethics Committee of Universiti Teknologi MARA [600-FF (PS.17/2/1)].

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Azmiera, N., Low, V.L. & Heo, C.C. Colonization of Rabbit Carcasses by Drain Fly Larvae, Psychoda sp. (Diptera: Psychodidae): The First Report. Acta Parasit. (2021).

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  • Psychoda sp.
  • Forensic entomology
  • Malaysia
  • Highland
  • Drain fly