Coffin Fly

Megaselia scalaris- a member the family Phoridae

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Characteristics

  • Thorax is large- "humpbacked structure" Major bristles of body are characteristically feathered in this region
  • Variety of sensory organs are present on the posterior surface
  • Wings are usually large and fringed with short to long setae
  • Several tiny pore-like sensory organsare present at various places on the anterior veins.
  • Has the ability to dig up to six feet underground to reach a body and oviposit.

Diet


  • omnivorous species: plants, wounds, and corpses
  • Oviposit within a few days of a corpse's exposure.
  • Protein food sources are preferred by the females preceding maturation of their eggs
  • All meals must be a fluid in order for the flies to access because coffin fly has sponging mouthparts
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A Case of Megaselia scalaris (Loew) (Dipt., Phoridae) breeding in a human corpse


  • 1999, Southern Italy
  • adult male was exhumed- buried at a depth of 30-40 cm in a wooden coffin approximately one year before the exhumation.
  • Killed by gunshot wounds to the head and the chest.
  • The fully clothed corpse was covered with numerous larvae, pupae and empty puparia.
  • The larvae and adults collected during the autopsy- identified as individuals of Megaselia scalaris (only insect evidence associated to the human remains).
  • The examination of the coffin revealed some very small holes of the wooden axis through which only small flies like M. scalaris were able to get the body.
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Life Cycle

Gnerally occurs at 22-24°C, the first instar lasts 1-2 days, the second 1-2 days, and the third 3-4 days before pupation and a further 1-2 days before pupation; larvae feed for 8 to 16 days and then crawl to a drier spot to pupate. The life cycle can be completed in 14 days under ideal conditions, but it can take a long as 37 days.
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Geographic location

  • breed in human corpses with such tenacity, they can even continue living within buried coffins
  • frequent unsanitary places,including drain pipes. they may transport various disease-causing organisms to food material.

Time appears on body

  • about a year after death
  • Dry decay
  • State of decay: body is now dry and decays very slowly. Eventually all the hair disappears leaving the bones only.

Citations

Manlove, J.D. "The Use of Megaselia Abdita (Diptera: Phordae) in Forensic Entomology." ScienceDirect. Elsevier Ireland and L.td., 1 Jan. 2008. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <https://www.deepdyve.com/lp/elsevier/the-use-of-megaselia-abdita-diptera-phoridae-in-forensic-entomology-eiHuKWO3yl>.


"FORENSIC ENTOMOLOGY OR THE USE OF INSECTS IN DEATH INVESTIGATIONS." INVESTIGATING FORENSICS. SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 1 Jan. 2010. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://www.sfu.museum/forensics/eng/pg_media-media_pg/entomologie-entomology/>.


Brake, Irina. "Megaselia Scalaris." Encyclopedia of Life. EOL. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://eol.org/pages/735077/details>.


Campobasso, C.P. "A Case of Megaselia Scalaris (Loew) (Dipt., Phoridae) Breeding in a Human Corpse." Researchgate. The Guest Editor & Aggrawal´s Internet Journal of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology., 1 Jan. 2004. Web. 1 Jan. 2015.


"Phoridae: Humpbacked Or Coffin Flies." LSUAgCenter. LSU AgCenter, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 1 Jan. 2015. <http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/environment/insects/public_health/Humpback Or Coffin Flies.htm>.