Beetles before swine

There is no absolute forensic method to determine time since death in a homicide investigation. However, new work with the carrion-eating hide beetle Dermestes maculates suggests that the insect is attracted to a volatile ester emitted by a carcass. Gas chromatography was used to analyze the headspace gases from pig carcasses at different stages of decay. 18 volatile compounds were found to be electroactive and 13 were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, with benzyl butyrate being the most active volatile identified, according to researchers in Germany. The study provides additional insights into the process of insect infestation of a dead body, offering new information homicide investigations.