The Study of Forensically Important Insects Recovered from Human Corpses in Taiwan

Insects. 2023 Mar 31;14(4):346. doi: 10.3390/insects14040346.


A study of entomological specimens recovered from 117 human corpses in 114 forensic cases was conducted in Taiwan between 2011 and 2018. The comparisons and discussions of the entomological data were based on the locations (indoor vs. outdoor), environments (urban vs. suburban), season and decomposition stages of corpses. In the study, both morphology and DNA-based comparison methods were used to facilitate species identification. In total, nine families and twenty-two species were thus identified. The two most abundant fly species recovered from human corpses were Chrysomya megacephala (35.1%, 1735 out of 4949) and Chrysomya rufifacies (21.7%, 1072 out of 4949). As for case frequency, both the two were also the most common fly species (both 40%, 46 out of 114), particularly in outdoor cases (also both 74%, 25 out of 34). We found that Chrysomya pinguis and Lucilia porphyrina appeared in low temperature scenes in this study. Synthesiomyia nudiseta was the most common species detected on indoor (36%, 29 out of 80 cases) and urban (41%, 22 out of 54 cases) corpses. Sarcophagidae were strongly associated with urban environments (35%, 19 out of 54 cases), and Parasarcophaga (Liosarcophaga) dux, Liopygia ruficornis and Boettcherisca peregrina were the most frequent sarcophagid species collected from corpses. Hydrotaea spinigera was often found on corpses immersed in water (60%, three out of five cases) with advanced decay or remains stages. Megaselia scalaris was closely correlated with indoor cases (24%, 19 out of 80). In addition, Piophila megastigmata was collected from a corpse in the remains stage and the data represent the first report in Taiwan.

Keywords: Taiwan; calliphoridae; forensic entomology; human cadavers; muscidae; sarcophagidae.

Grants and funding

This research was supported by Central Police University and Ministry of the Interior (106-0805-05-05-01 and 107-0805-05-17-01) in Taiwan.