Natural Resources, School of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Roe and Higley (2015), Development modeling of Lucilia sericata (Diptera: Calliphoridae). PeerJ 3:e803; DOI 10.7717/peerj.803


2015 Roe and Higley


The relationship between insect development and temperature has been well established and has a wide range of uses, including the use of blow flies for postmortem (PMI) interval estimations in death investigations. To use insects in estimating PMI, we must be able to determine the insect age at the time of discovery and backtrack to time of oviposition. Unfortunately, existing development models of forensically important insects are only linear approximations and do not take into account the curvilinear properties experienced at extreme temperatures. A series of experiments were conducted with Lucilia sericata, a forensically important blow fly species, that met the requirements needed to create statistically valid development models. Experiments were conducted over 11 temperatures (7.5 to 32.5 ◦C, at 2.5 ◦C) with a 16:8 L:D cycle. Experimental units contained 20 eggs, 10 g beef liver, and 2.5 cm of pine shavings. Each life stage (egg to adult) had five sampling times. Each sampling time was replicated four times, for a total of 20 measurements per life stage. For each sampling time, the cups were pulled fromthe chambers and the stage of each maggot was documented morphologically through posterior spiracle slits and cephalopharyngeal skeletal development. Data were normally distributed with the later larval stages (L3f, L3m) having the most variation within and transitioning between stages. The biological minimum was between 7.5 ◦C and 10 ◦C, with little egg development and no egg emergence at 7.5 ◦C. Temperature-induced mortality was highest from 10.0 to 17.5 ◦C and 32.5 ◦C. The development data generated illustrates the advantages of large datasets in modeling Lucilia sericata development and the need for curvilinear models in describing development at environmental temperatures near the biological minima and maxima.