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Who are These Bodacious Thieves and Squatters?

Updated on May 28, 2017

Who in the World are These Nervy Varmints?

An undiscovered cadaver provides a nesting and feasting haven for scavengers.

In all likelihood the varmints are either the corpse's cat or dog as well as flies, beetles, and other parasites.

Hence, the immediate discovery and removal of a body prevents the consumption or pillaging of the corpse. Or what is known as postmortem predatory activity.

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Cat are Less Loyal When They're Hungry

The vote is unanimous, cats or less loyal than dogs when it comes to hunger pangs. It’s quite common for police officers to discover a cat gnawing on the corpse of their owner.

A cat's instinct for survival is engaged twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. On the other hand, a dog is more apt to postpone gorging on their owner's corpse. Out of their dedication and love for them. Well at least for a while.

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Source

Flies are the First Scavengers to Arrive

The house flies and blow flies are the first insects to appear at the site of a corpse. The house flies’ antennae act as sniff radars for detecting decaying flesh. In contrast to blow flies, the house flies lay eggs outside of the remains. The larvae hatches in one day. Then it slurps on the corpse’s fluids. On the second day it tunnels into the body. Consequently, it takes eight days for the larvae to evolve into adult flies.

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A house fly.
A house fly. | Source

The Blow Fly's Hair is High-Tech

The gaseous odors and fluids from a decomposing body attract blow flies. Incidentally, their body hairs act as sensors enabling them to taste, touch, and smell.

The blow flies lay eggs into the corpse’s eyes, mouth, and nose. These eggs hatch into maggots. That feed on the soft muscle tissues and body fat of the corpse. The feeding frenzy halts during the pupal stage (the cocoon period).

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A blow fly.
A blow fly. | Source

When Does the Blow Fly Depart the Corpse?

An adult blow fly emerges in two weeks from the pupal casing. It continues to feed on the disintegrating organism. In order to increase its protein level. That is required for wing development and egg production. Once the protein level is adequate the blow fly departs the corpse.

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Maggots
Maggots | Source

Hide Beetles are the Next Interlopers

Did you know hide beetles have mouthparts called mandibles that allow them to bite and chew? These insects munch on fly larvae in addition to the corpse’s hair, flesh, and other beetles.

Moreover, the larvae may feed on the corpse up to 35 to 200 days. Apparently, the larvae requires a longer feeding period in cool temperatures. The pupation stage can take up to one to two weeks. Generally speaking, an adult hide beetle emerges from the pupa sac in two weeks.

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A hide beetle.
A hide beetle. | Source

Flesh Eating Beetles

Other Parasites and Pillagers

Some other parasites and pillagers involved in postmortem predatory activities include: Mites, spiders, ticks, moths, and wasps.

Curiously, foxes, wolves, and coyotes often scatter undiscovered remains in wooded areas. And interestingly, mice and voles tend to collect the cadaver's bones. Also, birds recycle the corpse’s hair for building nests.

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A bird has used human hair to enhance its nest.
A bird has used human hair to enhance its nest. | Source

DO YOU THINK YOUR CAT OR DOG WOULD EAT YOUR CORPSE?

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References

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The Straight Dope Science Advisory Board (Hawk).The Straight Dope: Will cats eat their owners?. The Straight Dope.June 5, 2001.http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1922/will-cats-eat-their-owners. August 2013.

Hadley, Debbie. How Crime Scene Insects Reveal the Time of Death of a Corpse.About.com.Insects.http://insects.about.com/od/forensicentomology/a/CSItimeofdeath.htm.August 2013

The life cycle of a Beetle.http://www.animalcorner.co.uk/insects/beetles/beetle_lifecycle.html

Shaver, Brianna and Phillip E. Kaufman, University of Florida. common name: hide beetle, scientific name: Dermestes maculatus DeGeer (Insecta: Coleoptera Dermestidae), Introduction-Synonymy-Distribution-Description-Life Cycle and Biology-Forensic Importance-Economic Importance-Selected References. October 2009, Updated October 2012http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/beetles/hide_beetle.htm.August 2013




© 2013 Irma Cowthern

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