Rehydration of Forensically Important Larval Diptera Specimens
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Established procedures for collecting and preserving evidence are essential for all forensic disciplines to be accepted in court and by the forensic community at large. Entomological evidence, such as Diptera larvae, are primarily preserved in ethanol, which can evaporate over time, resulting in the dehydration of specimens. In this study, methods used for rehydrating specimens were compared. The changes in larval specimens with respect to larval length and weight for three forensically important blow fly (Diptera: Calliphoridae) species in North America were quantified. Phormia regina (Meigen), Cochliomyia macellaria (F.), and Chrysomya rufifacies (Macquart) third-instar larvae were collected from various decomposing animals and preserved with three preservation methods (80% ethanol, 70% isopropyl alcohol, and hot-water kill then 80% ethanol). Preservative solutions were allowed to evaporate. Rehydration was attempted with either of the following: 80% ethanol, commercial trisodium phosphate substitute solution, or 0.5% trisodium phosphate solution. All three methods partially restored weight and length of specimens recorded before preservation. Analysis of variance results indicated that effects of preservation, rehydration treatment, and collection animal were different in each species. The interaction between preservative method and rehydration treatment had a significant effect on both P. regina and C. macellaria larval length and weight. In addition, there was a significant interaction effect of collection animal on larval C. macellaria measurements. No significant effect was observed in C. rufifacies larval length or weight among the preservatives or treatments. These methods could be used to establish a standard operating procedure for dealing with dehydrated larval specimens in forensic investigations.
author list (cited authors)
Sanford, M. R., Pechal, J. L., & Tomberlin, J. K.