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Forensic Sci Int. 2009 Dec 15;193(1-3):21-5. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2009.08.013. Epub 2009 Sep 20.

Effect of morphine on the growth rate of Calliphora stygia (Fabricius) (Diptera: Calliphoridae) and possible implications for forensic entomology.

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  • 1School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds, Victoria 3217, Australia.


Insect specimens collected from decomposing bodies enable forensic entomologists to estimate the minimum post-mortem interval (PMI). Drugs and toxins within a corpse may affect the development rate of insects that feed on them and it is vital to quantify these effects to accurately calculate minimum PMI. This study investigated the effects of morphine on growth rates of the native Australian blowfly, Calliphora stygia (Fabricius) (Diptera: Calliphoridae). Several morphine concentrations were incorporated into pet mince to simulate post-mortem concentrations in morphine, codeine and/or heroin-dosed corpses. There were four treatments for feeding larvae; T 1: control (no morphine); T 2: 2 microg/g morphine; T 3: 10 microg/g morphine; and T 4: 20 microg/g morphine. Ten replicates of 50 larvae were grown at 22 degrees C for each treatment and their development was compared at four comparison intervals; CI 1: 4-day-old larvae; CI 2: 7-day-old larvae; CI 3: pupae; and CI 4: adults. Length and width were measured for larvae and pupae, and costae and tibiae were measured for adults. Additionally, day of pupariation, day of adult eclosion, and survivorship were calculated for each replicate. The continued presence of morphine in meat was qualitatively verified using high-performance liquid chromatography with acidic potassium permanganate chemiluminescence detection. Growth rates of C. stygia fed on morphine-spiked mince did not differ significantly from those fed on control mince for any comparison interval or parameter measured. This suggests that C. stygia is a reliable model to use to accurately age a corpse containing morphine at any of the concentrations investigated.

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