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Nature's Witness™ Forensic Entomology

When two bodies are found in a cabin, forensic examiners must study insect larvae feeding off the bodies to determine time of death. Students will experience how insect life cycles can reveal forensic data.



Two bodies in a Blackrock River cabin crime scene were decomposing toward being unrecognizable and had large maggot masses on them when discovered. To aid the resulting investigation, students will learn how forensic entomologists use maggots to determine the post-mortem interval (PMI). Students will then examine samples of the life stages of two fly species and develop their own personal key for distinguishing between life stage and species.

Afterwards, students will use their key to identify a number of insects that were collected from the corpses. They will then record and share that information for the entire class to use. Finally, by comparing their identification data to a life stage/species development chart and using National Weather Service data, students will determine the post-mortem interval for both decedents.

This is also a permanent kit, in that as long as specimens are not damaged, they can be reused from class to class.

As in all Lyle and Louise modules, this kit is geared to high school and undergraduate courses, and is matched to National Science Education Standards. This kit is designed for 6 labs groups (up to 30 students).

Next Generation Science Standards

  • MS-LS1-4. Use argument based on empirical evidence and scientific reasoning to support an explanation for how characteristic animal behaviors and specialized plant structures affect the probability of successful reproduction of animals and plants respectively.
  • MS-LS1-5. Construct a scientific explanation based on evidence for how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms.

Common Core Standards

  • CCSS.Math.Content.HSN-Q.A.3 Choose a level of accuracy appropriate to limitations on measurement when reporting quantities.
  • CCSS.Math.Content.HSN-Q.A.1 Use units as a way to understand problems and to guide the solution of multi-step problems; choose and interpret units consistently in formulas; choose and interpret the scale and the origin in graphs and data displays.


Included Materials
  • Fully illustrated teacher and student guide
  • PowerPoint lecture
  • PowerPoint walk-through of lab procedure
  • Life stages of Lucilia sericata (3 sets of 6) 
  • Life stages of Bercaea haemorrhoidalis (3 sets of 6)
  • Evidence collections (6 vials)
  • Weather data
Required Materials
  • Entomology Featherweight Forceps (6 - 12)
  • Lab gloves
  • Microscope or magnifying glass (6 - 12)
  • Computer with MS Excel
Storage Conditions Cool and Dark (Ambient)
Stability Indefinite

Teacher Manuals

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