A Peek Into Entomology Collections

One of my projects at the Iziko South African Museum takes me into the Entomology Collections housed at the museum. I have researched carrion ecology and selected insects of importance to the topic in southern Africa; using the collections I photograph specimens of interest. Of the insects I have photographed, most interesting to me is a Large Blue Blowfly, distinctive due to its size and coloring, as shown in the attached image (for some reason WordPress refuses to upload the photo of the specimen I worked with).

Collected by A. J. Prins in 1976, the Large Blue Blowfly specimen I photographed attended carrion near Cape Point before its capture. Known nowadays in the scientific community as Chrysomya marginalis, for a period of time this blowfly went by the name of Chrysomya regalis. One of the first carrion feeders to arrive at a corpse, they spend on average 11 days in the larval stage before burrowing into the ground to pupate for up to 2 weeks. Larvae that arrive later at carrion fear predators in the form of more mature maggots of other blowfly species, in particular Chrysomya albiceps. This may explain the territorial separation at carrion between the two species.

Due to their quick arrival and regulated lifecycle, C. marginalis may be used to identify post-mortem interval in forensic cases. Some studies suggest they primarily dominate carrion in the autumn, which leads to other species (e.g. C. albiceps) being considered more useful. However, during the period of time when they do frequent corpses, they can be found in nearly all environments of southern Africa.

Chrysomya marginalis

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One thought on “A Peek Into Entomology Collections

  1. Whoa–the connections to forensics are really intriguing. This fly is actually kind of cool looking…not sure I’d want it around much though.

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