Volatile compounds reveal age: a study of volatile organic compounds released by Chrysomya rufifacies immatures. Academic Article uri icon


  • Age determination of insects collected from vertebrate remains is an essential step in estimating time since colonization as related to the post-mortem interval. Long-established methods for making such estimates rely on determining age related to stage of development at the time of collection in relation to conditions experienced. However, such estimates are based on the completion of a stage of development. Methods allowing for more precise estimates of age (i.e., within a stage of development) are sorely needed. This study examined the potential of volatile organic compounds emitted by blow fly, Ch. rufifacies (Macquart), immatures to determine stage of development, which could potentially be used to estimate the age. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the larval and pupal stages of Ch. rufifacies were collected by headspace solid-phase micro-extraction followed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). Analyses indicated 37 compounds shift quantitatively, as well as qualitatively, as the larvae and pupae age. Furthermore, compounds, such as 2-ethyl-1-hexanol, phenol, butanoic acid, hexadecanoic acid, octadecanoic acid, 2-methyl propanamide, and 2-methyl butanoic acid, serve as indicator compounds of specific stages within Ch. rufifacies development. This information could be important to determine if these compounds can be used in the field to predict the presence of certain developmental stages, in order to determine the potential of using volatile markers to estimate time of colonization.

published proceedings

  • Int J Legal Med

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Sharma, A., Tomberlin, J. K., Delclos, P., & Bala, M.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Sharma, Anika||Tomberlin, Jeffery K||Delclos, Pablo||Bala, Madhu

publication date

  • May 2021