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HOME > ON THE BOOKSHELF > May-June 2000 > Bookshelf Detail


Bugs in the Courtroom: Excerpts from A Fly for the Prosecution and Millions of Monarchs, Bunches of Beetles

After the first two weeks of decomposition, the blow flies and the flesh flies start to leave the corpse to pupate, and since they do not usually return to the same corpse to produce a second generation, their usefulness as indicators of the minimum period since death decreases. After the departure of these flies, the emphasis in estimating the postmortem interval shifts from the developmental cycles of individuals and species to the succession patterns of all the insects and other arthropods present on and around the corpse during the various stages of decomposition.

A Fly for the Prosecution: How Insect Evidence Helps Solve Crimes
by M. Lee Goff
Harvard University Press, $22.95

The legal prosecution of insects continued until surprisingly recent times ... until long after the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the railroad and telegraph. The most recent prosecution of insects ... occurred at Pozega in Slavonia, eastern Croatia, in 1866 when the region was plagued with locusts. One of the largest of the locusts was seized and tried, found guilty, and then put to death by being thrown into water with anathemas pronounced on it and the whole species.

Millions of Monarchs, Bunches of Beetles: How Bugs Find Strength in Numbers
by Gilbert Waldbauer
Harvard University Press, $24.95


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