This article in the News Transcript details a recent visit of our friend Lou Sorkin, of the American Museum of Natural History, to the Manalapan Englishtown Middle School, where he spoke to eighth graders about his work in forensic entomology:
… Sorkin discussed how he is called upon by medical examiners in New York and New Jersey to assist in criminal investigations by estimating an individual’s time of death through an analysis of the insects found on a corpse.
He brought photos of a pig that had died and was shown in different stages of decomposition. By examining the kinds of insects found feeding on the pig and where they were located on the corpse, and by studying the life cycle of particular insects from birth to adulthood, forensic entomologists can determine the time of the animal’s death.
Lou also told students about a case where insects played an interesting role:
Sorkin relayed a story of an unusual case in which he helped puzzled detectives in Manhattan determine why a crime scene had blood splattered all over the walls, similar to a crime scene typically found in a shooting, but no gunshot wounds were found on the victim. A lots of cockroaches were found at the scene.
After studying the habits of the cockroaches, Sorkin determined that the hordes of cockroaches had fed on the victim’s blood and then defecated on the walls, leaving a pattern that looked much like a spray of blood.
Although it did not come up specifically in the article, one might imagine that a crime scene’s bed bugs may play a role in providing evidence of how a crime played out.
Portions of the article focused on bed bugs, and the students were fascinated by how Lou feeds his bed bug colony, and the resulting bed bug bites on his arms, caused by many bed bugs feeding at once.
We are ever grateful to Lou for his research on bed bugs, and his generosity to bedbuggers. We hope many of these young people will be interested in entomology as a career.
We also really hope bed bugs are completely under control by the time they decide on a college major, in 4-7 years. Really.
A second article on this visit, from the Asbury Park Press, is here.