Two species of necrophagous Coleoptera: Dermestes frischi (Dermestidae) and Thanatophilus sinuatus (Silphidae), were reared on substrates containing different amounts of morphine. Colonies of D. frischi were reared on rabbit carcasses which had been given 10, 20, and 40 mg/h of morphine hydrochloride via ear artery perfusion over a 3 h period prior to death. A fourth rabbit served as a control. T. sinuatus was reared on minced beef spiked with morphine hydrochloride to give concentrations of 1000, 2500, 5000, and 10 000 ng/g and one control colony. These dosages were calculated to create tissue concentrations of morphine similar to those encountered in human deaths due to morphine overdose. Larvae, pupae, and adults (except for T. sinuatus) were analyzed for morphine content. All developmental stages of D. frischi were positive for morphine and concentrations correlated with cadaveric tissue concentrations during larval stages and to a lesser extent in the adult stage. For T. sinuatus, the best correlations were found in 2nd and 3rd instar larvae. This study demonstrates the potential for use of necrophagous Coleoptera, as well as Diptera larvae, as alternate specimens for toxicological analyses.
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