Field Validation of a Development Data Set for Cochliomyia macellaria (Diptera: Calliphoridae): Estimating Insect Age Based on Development Stage. Academic Article uri icon


  • Insect age estimates can be useful for estimating the postmortem interval when certain assumptions are met. Such estimates are based on species-specific development data that are temperature-dependent and variable, and therefore prone to different degrees of error depending on the combination of data sets, calculations, and assumptions applied in a specific instance. Because of this potential error, validating the methods employed is necessary for determining accuracy and precision of a given technique. For forensic entomology, validation of development data sets is one approach for identifying the uncertainty associated with insect age estimates. Cochliomyia macellaria (Fabricius) is a primary colonizer of remains across the United States and is commonly encountered in forensic investigations. A development study for this species was produced for a central Texas, U.S. population; the variation associated with this data set and the pre-appearance interval were previously explored in an ecological model. The objectives of this study were to determine the accuracy of the development data and the validity of the ecological model when applied to immatures of known age developing under field conditions. Results indicate this data set is an accurate predictor of insect age when using development stage, supporting the validity of the ecological model in central Texas. Age predictions made with all stages present in a sample were more accurate than predictions made with the most developed stage in a sample, and estimates of age when using the prepupal stage were overestimated regardless of prediction method, though thermal requirements for total development were similar.

published proceedings

  • J Med Entomol

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Faris, A. M., West, W. R., Tomberlin, J. K., & Tarone, A. M.

citation count

  • 7

complete list of authors

  • Faris, AM||West, WR||Tomberlin, JK||Tarone, AM

editor list (cited editors)

  • Byrd, J.

publication date

  • January 2020