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How maggots can help solve crimes

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maggot talkIan Burgess of the Medical Entomological Centre, Stow-sum-Quy, has given a presentation to Biology and Applied Science A level and Level 2 and 3 Diploma Applied Science students to show how insects found at scenes of crime can be used to time death and help bring perpetrators to justice.

Ian usually uses this presentation to brief SOCOs (Scene of Crime Officers) in how bugs can be used in forensic science. The presentation included two case studies, one from the UK and one from the USA.

Paul Andrew, Deputy Department Manager Science, Computing and Maths, says: “To make the talk more realistic, the Science, Computing and Technology department supplied a ‘corpse’ – a dummy of a person in a state of decomposition – and a large number of real maggots, which we got from an angling supplies shop.”

Paul adds: “We are very grateful to Ian Burgess for giving this talk to our students. It is extremely useful for Science students to know how forensic methods are used both in crime scene investigations and in laboratories. In addition, Ian was able to give students excellent advice about the feasibility of careers in forensic science.

“This is just one example of the many relationships we have forged with science and technology companies and organisations. These enable us to enrich our students’ studies, to give them information about a range of careers and to help them find relevant employment, both after College and post-degree.”


Left to right: Ian Burgess, Alex Pawley, David Williams, Niamh Kemp, Andy O’Connor and, tweezering out a maggot, Jack Willows.