Investigations

The insects present at crime scenes can provide vital information about the crime. 

All forensic entomology investigations begin by establishing the identity of the insects, a role that the Museum and its staff are uniquely suited to.

The Museum's forensic entomologists analyse the insects found at a variety of crime scenes every year, providing evidence based on the findings.

Suspicious deaths

Forensic entomologists at the Museum are involved in several death investigations each year collecting and analysing insect samples from crime scenes.

These insects can provide crucial evidence about cases at any time of the year

  • Estimating minimum post-mortem interval, even in cases of severe burning
  • Determining if the body has been moved since death
  • Determining how long a buried body was exposed above ground before burial

The Museum's forensic consultancy staff 

Calliphora vomitoria

Head of bluebottle fly Calliphora vomitoria.

  • Collect insect samples at the crime scene or post-mortem
  • Analyse insect samples recovered by crime scene personnel and pathologists
  • Produce expert witness statements for 
    • Police forces throughout the UK
    • Forensic Science Service
    • LGC Forensics
    • Cellmark Ltd
    • RSPCA
    • Veterinary practices
    • Defence lawyers
  • Advise crime scene personnel and pathologists on methodologies

Other investigations

calliphora vicina larvae

Urban bluebottle blowfly, feeding on a stillborn piglet and surrounded by larvae of the same species.

 

In addition to death enquiries, forensic entomology can be applied to any situation where insects have been collected as evidence.

For example

  • determining the origin of plant material (e.g. cannabis) by a knowledge of the distribution of insects found on the plants
  • assessing how long wild or domestic animals have been infested by insects, either infested when alive in cases of cruelty and neglect, or when dead in cases of illegal disposal of remains

For further information contact 

Dr Martin Hall

Division of vectors and parasites
Department of Life sciences
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 5BD

Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5715
Fax: +44 (0)20 7942 5229
Email us

NHM Consulting

Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 5BD
UK

Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5019
Fax: +44 (0)20 7942 5841

Email us: nhmconsulting@nhm.ac.uk