Photo of student wearing waders in river and holding large fishing net.

Forensic Entomology

Dr. Denise Gemmellaro at  and view the Forensic Entomology Workshop pdf.

August 10 – August 21, 2020
$530 per week or $850 for both weeks (food and accommodations included)

Some species of insects are attracted to a dead carcass a few hours after death occurs. Therefore, when a dead body is recovered, those insects can provide incredibly useful information as to how and when death occurred, whether or not the body was moved from another location and even about potential drug and alcohol consumption before death. Things like weather and temperature can affect how insects colonize a dead body, so it’s important to learn to take these things into account when analyzing evidence at a crime scene.

This workshop will consist of classroom lectures, lab activities and fieldwork. We will discuss how to approach a crime scene, how to collect data and evidence, and how to preserve and analyze that evidence. Students will learn about the life cycle behavior of insects that feed on carcasses or that are attracted to them and about the process of insect colonization of a dead body. Fieldwork will consist of observing carcasses in different stages of decomposition to understand what might have happened after death, collecting insect and other types of evidence from carcasses and from staged “crime scenes” and learning some photographic techniques to document a crime scene. In the lab, students will observe and identify the insects collected from the crime scenes, they will learn how to make their own microscope slides with their evidence, and they will also have the opportunity to grow insects collected from the scene for identification. Besides learning about forensics, participants will also be able to enjoy activities such as boating, archery, a climbing wall, wildlife watching and hiking, all offered by the NJ School of Conservation!

Workshop Includes:

  • Learning how to approach a crime scene and how to collect evidence and data from the scene.
  • Understanding the role of insects in the process of decomposition and importance in calculating time of death
  • Collecting and preserving entomological evidence
  • Identifying what a body goes through after death occurs
  • Identification of insects attracted to a carcass
  • Discussion of real cases and illustration of case reports

For more information about this program contact Denise Gemmellaro and view the Forensic Entomology Workshop pdf.