Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor or Mentor

Jennifer Rosati

Second Reader

Mechthild Prinz

Third Advisor

Adrienne Brundage


Blow flies (Order: Diptera, Family: Calliphoridae) are a valuable forensic tool. Female blow flies will lay eggs (colonize) on remains often within minutes of death and entomological methods are based on their behavior and development to extrapolate postmortem intervals (PMI). External factors, such as temperature and weather patterns can influence timing of this behavior. This study seeks to gain a better understanding of the environmental factors that impact this behavior across two seasons. In this study, arrival and colonization behavior was investigated on rat carcasses from sunrise to sunset in a semi-rural region of New Jersey (n=64). Video recording software was used to document blow fly activity, blow fly eggs were reared to determine species identification and temperature was recorded using a data logger. Data was analyzed with respect to time, temperature and accumulated degree hour (ADH). This study showed that there was a significant difference in species composition and the pre-colonization interval (pre-CI) between two seasons; There was higher species diversity and shorter pre-CI during the summer trials. The difference in arrival and colonization was not significant with respect to the ADH of the resource, demonstrating consistency in blow fly activity based upon the state of decomposition. The results of this study support the need to better understand blow fly recruitment and colonization behavior during the pre-CI to increase their reliability as forensic indicators of PMI.



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