Necrophagous insects are the most important ecological evidence associated with a decomposing corpse. Insects provide insight into estimating the post-mortem interval (PMI), assessing whether a corpse has been moved, use in toxicological analyses, and provide utility in surveillance and as sniffer systems. Necrophagous Diptera are regarded as the most important forensic indicator species, largely because they colonize a corpse within minutes of death. Other types of carrion-inhabiting insects also offer value, although more limited than flies, to forensic investigations. Perhaps, the most neglected of these groups is the parasitic Hymenoptera, a group comprising several species that utilize necrophagous flies as natural hosts. Parasitic wasps extend the PMI window to include the period of time after necrophagous flies have emerged to when a corpse is discovered. Wasp host preferences and seasonal occurrences can reveal if a body was moved from another location prior to discovery. Foraging behavior of adults can be used to locate concealed bodies and potentially aid in combating entomological terrorism agents. Presently, the full potential of parasitic Hymenoptera as alternate forensic indicator species has not been explored. This chapter relates the life history characteristics of parasitic wasps to their potential usefulness in forensic applications.
Part of the book: Forensic Analysis