The Utility of Coleoptera in Forensic Investigations

  • John M. Midgley
  • Cameron S. Richards
  • Martin H. Villet


Forensic entomology is a developing field of forensic science, so there are many avenues to investigate. These avenues include novel directions that have never been addressed, as well as more critical and rigorous research into areas which have already been explored. Most research in forensic entomology has focused on flies, and beetles (Coleoptera) have been at best under-emphasized. A good example of this is the review by Smith (1986), where 70 pages are dedicated to Diptera and only 12 to Coleoptera; this situation has changed little in the subsequent 20 years. To contextualize the neglect, throughout the world there are at least as many species of Coleoptera that may visit a particular carcass as Diptera (Braack 1986; Louw and van der Linde 1993; Bourel et al. 1999; Lopes de Carvalho et al. 2000; Pérez et al. 2005; Shea 2005; Watson and Carlton 2005a; Salazar 2006; Martinez et al. 2007). A common assumption underlying the neglect of Coleoptera is that Diptera locate corpses faster, and thus give a more accurate estimate of minimum Post Mortem Interval (PMImin). Recent observations (Midgley and Villet 2009b) have shown that Thanatophilus micans (Silphidae) can locate corpses and start breeding within 24 h of death, and thus the potential utility of estimates based on this species is equal to that of those based on flies.


Immature Stage Beetle Species Forensic Investigation Developmental Data Reeve Beetle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Terence Bellingan and Kendall Crous for assistance with laboratory work. Rhodes University funded the work.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John M. Midgley
    • 1
  • Cameron S. Richards
    • 1
  • Martin H. Villet
    • 1
  1. 1.Southern African Forensic Entomology Research Laboratory, Department of Zoology and EntomologyRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa

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