Quantifying the Temperature of Maggot Masses and its Relationship to Decomposition

Heaton, Vivienne, Moffatt, Colin and Simmons, Tal Linda Ileen (2014) Quantifying the Temperature of Maggot Masses and its Relationship to Decomposition. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 59 (3). pp. 676-682. ISSN 0022-1198

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1556-4029.12396


Numerous Calliphoridae species have been observed to form larval aggregations during the feeding stage of development, resulting in localized increases in temperature. This study investigates the relationship between maggot numbers in a mass and heat generation. Single-species aggregations (Lucilia sericata) of various sizes (50–2500 individuals) were reared in the laboratory at a constant ambient temperature of 22°C. Internal mass temperatures were recorded every 5 min throughout the feeding stage of development. Results showed that mass temperatures increased with mass numbers (p-value < 0.001), ranging from 2.5 to 14°C above ambient. A minimum mass size of 1200 produced overall temperatures that were significantly warmer than ambient, diverging away from 22°C after c. 26 h. These results indicate that the microclimate of a mass has the potential to differ significantly from ambient, which may be influencing larval development rates and should therefore be factored into mPMI estimates to increase accuracy.

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