We went on a musuem field trip Friday and I "discovered" a new field... forensic entomology. Have you heard of it? Did you know that insects could help solve crimes? Since different types of insects visit a decaying body at different times, scientists are able to find out how long a body has been dead by analyzing the insects that are present!
The above sign reads, "The first recorded instance of using insects to solve a crime was in 1235 AD China. A farmer was brutally hacked to death with a sharp instrument. The village head assembled all the local farmers, and asked them to lay their sickles on the ground. Flies clustered on one side of the sickles, attracted by invisible remnants of flesh and dried blood. In the face of this evidence, the owner of the sickle confessed to the murder."
This sign talks about the sequence of what insects come to a corpse - from blow flies to flesh flies to cheese flies. Yes, I know this is pretty gross, but isn't it fascinating, too? (By the way, if I ever return to college, I plan on becoming an entomologist!)
I don't think my daughter would be interested, but I found this neat activity for older kids called "What the Blowfly Saw". It gives clues and you are to figure out how long ago a man died. Another lesson plan, Entomology in Action, lets students help solve a case from 1986. (I haven't completed either activity, so I'd recommend you make sure these are appropriate for your child!)