Key for the identification of third instar larvae of African blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) of forensic importance in death investigations

Krzysztof Szpila, Kirstin Williams, Agnieszka Soszyńska, Mfon Ekanem, Marise Heyns, Mergi Daba Dinka, Martin Villet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Blowfly larvae are the insects primarily responsible for the active stage of decomposition of exposed vertebrate remains and are the most frequently collected entomological evidence during forensic investigations of death. The necrophagous calliphorids in continental Africa that consistently develop on large vertebrate carrion include 11 species belonging to four genera: Calliphora, Chrysomya, Hemipyrellia and Lucilia. Most of these species are widespread in Africa and frequently reported on large animal carcasses and carrion and human corpses. A few keys have been compiled for identification of their third instar larvae, but none of them covers the complete set of taxa. Therefore, we provide a new comprehensive key with original illustrations of all taxonomically significant characters. The key is based on characters that should be easily observable even in poorly equipped local laboratories and is a reliable taxonomic tool for material collected in either urban or rural areas where synanthropic species predominate. However, it should be used with some caution in areas with relatively pristine natural habitats, where additional carrion-breeding species may occur. The publication of the key will significantly facilitate both medical and forensic entomological research and practice in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111889
JournalForensic Science International
Early online date22 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 22 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are very grateful to Prof. Thomas Pape (Natural History Museum Denmark) for providing access to excellent SEM equipment. This work was financially supported by the Polish National Science Centre ( 2018/31/B/NZ8/02113 ), and Rhodes University , South Africa.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • forensic entomology
  • Africa
  • larva
  • Species identification
  • morphology
  • Caliphoridae
  • Larva
  • Calliphoridae
  • Forensic entomology
  • Morphology


Dive into the research topics of 'Key for the identification of third instar larvae of African blowflies (Diptera: Calliphoridae) of forensic importance in death investigations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this