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Survival of blow fly (Calliphoridae) larvae in hypoxic conditions

Colvin, Jace
Flies belonging to the family Calliphoridae are commonly used as forensic evidence as estimators of postmortem interval, due to their close association with carrion and other decomposing material. During certain stages of decomposition, their larvae may become completely submerged in fluids produced by extraoral secretions and microbial activity. In this study, I attempted to find the lethal time to 50% mortality of 3rd instar blowfly larvae (Calliphora vomitoria) in hypoxic conditions. The results of the trials were highly variable, with 83% of maggots surviving submergence of 76 hours in spring water or water bubbled with nitrogen, and 67% surviving 76 hours of submergence in water bubbled with carbon dioxide. Mortality rates never remained below 50% for any of the treatments performed, with many trials even showing 0% mortality. Future studies will need to be continued to determine if the type of hypoxic environment plays a role in the survival of C. vomitoria.