Effects of Temperature and Tissue Type on the Development of Megaselia scalaris (Diptera: Phoridae) Academic Article uri icon


  • The scuttle fly, Megaselia scalaris (Loew) (Diptera: Phoridae), is of medical, veterinary, and forensic importance. In the case of the latter, M. scalaris is commonly associated with indoor death or neglect cases of humans or household animals, and its larvae are useful in determining time of colonization (TOC). This study is the first to examine the effects of different temperatures and tissues from two vertebrate species on the growth rate and larval length of M. scalaris A preliminary validation of these data was also conducted. Immatures of M. scalaris were reared on either bovine or porcine biceps femoris at 24  °C, 28 °C, and 32 °C. Temperature significantly impacted immature development time, including egg eclosion, eclosion to pupation, and pupation to adult emergence, to favor faster development at higher temperatures. From ovipostion to eclosion, development rate was 32.1% faster from 24 °C to 28 °C, 13.9% faster from 28 °C to 32 °C, and 45.5% faster from 24 °C to 32 °C. Development from eclosion to pupation displayed similar results with differences of 30.3% between 24 °C and 28 °C, 15.4% between 28 °C and 32 °C, and 45.2% between 24 °C and 32 °C. Development from pupation to adult emergence, likewise, displayed a 44.4% difference from 24 °C and 28 °C, 7.3% from 28 °C to 32 °C, and 51.2% from 24 °C to 32 °C. From oviposition to adult emergence, M. scalaris needed ∼32.7% more hours to complete development when reared at 24 °C than 28 °C, 8.5% when reared at 28 °C rather than 32 °C, and 38.4% more time when reared at 24 °C over 32 °C. Tissue type did not significantly impact development.A preliminary validation study was conducted in four indoor environments (two attics, a closet, and a bathroom) spanning two different buildings. Utilizing minimum and mean lengths, time of colonization estimates were underestimated in all instances. The predicted range encompassed the actual TOC for two of the four environments. On average, when using minimum length, time of colonization was underestimated by 45%, but overestimated by only 2% when using maximum development range. Data generated from this research could be useful when estimating a TOC of decomposing vertebrate remains. Future research will need to examine development for each stadium in order to increase precision of such estimates.

author list (cited authors)

  • Thomas, J. K., Sanford, M. R., Longnecker, M., & Tomberlin, J. K.

citation count

  • 8

publication date

  • March 2016