Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forensic Science



First Advisor or Mentor

Jennifer Rosati

Second Reader

Angelique Corthals

Third Advisor

Louis Sorkin


Forensic entomology is the use and application of insect information in legal matters, particularly in death investigations as insects utilize decomposing remains as a food source to complete their life cycle. Dermestes maculatus (DeGeer), larder beetles belonging to the family Dermestidae, are of considerable forensic importance since their larvae are typically found on human corpses during the later stages of decomposition – the advanced and dry/skeletal stages. Dermestes maculatus can be useful in estimating the post-mortem interval (PMI) of a cadaver with advanced decomposition. The purpose of this study was to investigate the colonization (egg-laying) behavior of D. maculatus; specifically, the study examined whether D. maculatus colonize during the later decomposition stages due to a resource preference for dry, aged tissue or due to competitive effects resulting from the presence of Lucilia sericata (Meigen) blow flies. Results from the olfactory trials support previous findings that D. maculatus have a significant preference for aged resources, and that the presence of blow fly eggs are a deterrent. Microcosm experiments were conducted to examine oviposition behavior in the presence of blow fly eggs and it was observed that there was no significant preference of colonization for either treatment option given (with blow fly eggs vs. without blow fly eggs). Results from this assay suggest that D. maculatus may delay colonization of carrion primarily due to their preference for aged resources. The findings from this study aim to provide greater insight into their recruitment and colonization behavior to increase their utility as forensic tools.



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