Effects of Quicklime on Insect Colonization


  • Nathaniel Shearer Texas A&M University
  • July Jost Texas A&M University
  • Leo Lung Texas A&M University
  • Caralyn May Texas A&M University
  • Jennifer Rhinesmith-Carranza Texas A&M University
  • Meagan Smith Texas A&M University
  • Eva Trevino Texas A&M University
  • Amy Zheng Texas A&M University


Entomological evidence in the form of immature blow flies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and flesh flies (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) are often used in forensic investigations to estimate the minimum postmortem interval (mPMI) using species-specific growth charts established under ideal conditions. Clandestine burials often do not fall within these ideal conditions, and insect colonization can be influenced by the presence of chemicals meant to enhance the rate of decay, such as lime. While lime in fact slows decomposition, the direct effect of the presence of lime on insect colonization is poorly represented in literature. Two lamb livers were used as analogues for human remains in a field experiment. They were left open to colonization both treated with lime and untreated and monitored for insect activity. By total number and stage of larvae collected, the results suggest a significant increase in attraction to the lime-treated liver, implying that lime might have acted as an olfactory attractant rather than an olfactory deterrent to gravid Sarcophagidae females.


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