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Effects of Malathion on the Insect Succession and the Development of Chrysomya megacephala (Diptera: Calliphoridae) in the Field and Implications for Estimating Postmortem Interval

Yan-Wei, Shi PhD; Xiao-Shan, Liu MD; Hai-Yang, Wang MD; Run-Jie, Zhang PhD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: March 2010 - Volume 31 - Issue 1 - p 46-51
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e3181c215b4
Original Article

A field study on the effects of malathion on insect succession and the development of carrion flies on corpses, and its quantitative determination from the larvae on decomposing rabbit carrion was conducted. The rabbits were treated with malathion at concentrations of lethal, half-lethal and fourth-lethal doses. Malathion altered decomposition rates and species diversity: Chrysomya megacephala (Diptera: Calliphoridae) was the most abundant adult species in all the experiments; third instar larvae of Chrysomya rufifacies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) were not found on the toxic carcasses but were collected from the control; the appearance of beetles on the treated carcass was later by 1 to 3 days than on the control carcass. Development rate of the dominated species C. megacephala larvae and pupae was observed. Stepwise increases in the period of larval development, the maximum length of larvae, and weight of pupae were observed with increasing malathion concentrations. However, there was no significant difference in the duration of the pupal stage. The differences in development rate were sufficient to alter postmortem interval estimates based on larval development by 12 to 36 hours. The time of finding fresh pupae from the fourth-lethal carcass was 12 hours later than the control. Accumulations of the pesticide in larvae were observed, but no correlations were found between larvae concentrations and the initial quantity administered to rabbits.

In conclusion, it is necessary to consider the effects of malathion present in decomposing bodies when estimating the postmortem interval based on entomological evidence. The results of this study have more practical implications for forensic investigations because it is under natural conditions.

From the State Key Lab for Biocontrol and Institute of Entomology, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China.

Manuscript received December 2, 2008; accepted January 4, 2009.

Supported by the Science and Technology Brainstorm Project of China (grant No. 2005BA529A06), and the Nature Science Foundation of China (grant No. 30671394).

Reprints: Zhang Run-Jie, the Stage Key Lab for Bio-control and Institute of Entomology, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, 510275, People's Republic of China. E-mail:

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.