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CSI : Crime Scene Insects Visit
by Yesenia 12/31/03
During Winter Break I went to the Science Museum in St. Paul and looked at the Crime Scene Insects Display. It was about insects that help us figure out when and how people die.

Forensic Entomology
Forensic Entomology is the type of science where insects are used to determine the death of a person. This information can be used in a murder. Insects can help know these things:
  • When a person died - on what day did they die
  • How a person died - this means was the person murdered or did they die from natural causes
  • From what a person died - like if they drowned or were poisoned
  • Where a person died - if they were outside or inside when they died-if the body was moved.

    Time Line
    Here is a time line of how we started using insects as crime scene helpers:
  • 13th Century: China used flies to find out when somebody died.
  • 17th Century: Italy discovered how maggots come from eggs deposited by flies.

    Time Line
  • 19th Century: France is the first to use insects to solve a murder.
  • 1960s: More studies were done using insects to solve murders.

    Time Line
  • 1984: Forensic Entomology becomes a professional field
  • 1996: This science became a routine part of murder investigations.

    Death Time Line
    Time of death can be determined by counting backwards from the time insects are collected on a body.

    Grand Canyon Case using Forensic Entomology
    I choose the Grand Canyon Case because it was the most interesting example of using bugs to help us solve a mystery death.

    Two people were found dead in the Grand Canyon. They died from drowning but there were no lakes or water any place. By using insects they figured out when they died:

    Calendar Dates
  • Aug. 18 was when they were last seen alive.
  • Aug. 21 was the estimated date of the accident.
  • Aug. 22 flies laid their eggs.
  • Aug. 26 bodies were discovered.

    Crime Scene
    The crime scene insects helped find out the time that they died and when they died. There was a rainstorm in the mountains several miles away from the Grand Canyon. This rainstorm produced a flash flood in the Grand Canyon and caused these two people to drown.

    What I Learned
    I learned that insects figure a lot about a persons death. They help us to know if someone was dragged or carried outside, but actually died inside. Or they will help us to know if they died outside. Or if they died in water but werent found in water. They will help us solve many different types of mysteries.
    Billee Kraut took me over to the Science Museum and typed my report. She helped me with the pictures. A digital camera was used for pictures that go along with my report.
    Mr. J put the report and pictures on the internet.
    You can see the pictures at

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