Forensic acarology: an introduction
Perotti, M. A., Goff, M. L., Baker, A. S., Turner, B. D. and Braig, H. R. (2009) Forensic acarology: an introduction. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 49 (1-2). pp. 3-13. ISSN 0168-8162
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1007/s10493-009-9285-8
Mites can be found in all imaginable terrestrial habitats, in freshwater, and in salt water. Mites can be found in our houses and furnishings, on our clothes, and even in the pores of our skin-almost every single person carries mites. Most of the time, we are unaware of them because they are small and easily overlooked, and-most of the time-they do not cause trouble. In fact, they may even proof useful, for instance in forensics. The first arthropod scavengers colonising a dead body will be flies with phoretic mites. The flies will complete their life cycle in and around the corpse, while the mites may feed on the immature stages of the flies. The mites will reproduce much faster than their carriers, offering themselves as valuable timeline markers. There are environments where insects are absent or rare or the environmental conditions impede their access to the corpse. Here, mites that are already present and mites that arrive walking, through air currents or material transfer become important. At the end of the ninetieth century, the work of Jean Pierre M,gnin became the starting point of forensic acarology. M,gnin documented his observations in 'La Faune des Cadavres' [The Fauna of Carcasses]. He was the first to list eight distinct waves of arthropods colonising human carcasses. The first wave included flies and mites, the sixth wave was composed of mites exclusively. The scope of forensic acarology goes further than mites as indicators of time of death. Mites are micro-habitat specific and might provide evidential data on movement or relocation of bodies, or locating a suspect at the scene of a crime. Because of their high diversity, wide occurrence, and abundance, mites may be of great value in the analysis of trace evidence.