To discover the insect species likely to be useful in the early postmortem period in the United Arab Emirates, the authors exposed 216 rat carcasses outdoors at two sites in Dubai over three-day periods during winter.
The carrion insect species that most quickly deposit offspring on a corpse are, when available, likely to yield a more useful estimate of postmortem interval (PMI) compared to later arrivals. This is in part because the age of the oldest larva will be as close as possible to the PMI when doing a development analysis, and because the preappearance interval (PAI), the time the corpse was exposed before insect colonization, corresponds to the narrowest window of time since death for an insect-free corpse when doing a succession analysis. Given replicated training data a prediction of exposure time for a corpse can be in the form of a confidence set, and the maximum value of that set for an insect-free corpse is a probabilistic version of PAI. In the reported study in the United Arab Emirates, the authors exposed 216 rat carcasses outdoors at two sites in Dubai over three-day periods during winter. Rats were sampled twice each day without replacement and kept in the lab to allow carrion insects to complete development to the adult stage. The fly species produced in this way were Sarcophaga dux, S. ruficornis, Wohlfahrtia nuba, W. indigens (Sarcophagidae), Chrysomya albiceps (Calliphoridae), and Musca domestica (Muscidae). To the best of our knowledge this is the first record of W. indigens larvae feeding on carrion. While adult C. albiceps and M. domestica were abundant on the carcasses, C. albiceps colonized too slowly to be useful for this type of succession analysis within this time frame, and M. domestica emerged from a single rat. The Sarcophagidae were rapid colonizers, and under these conditions the probability is>90% that a carcass would remain free of S. dux larvae not more than 57 h and free of W. nuba larvae for not more than 51 h. (Published abstract provided)