Forensics, Flies And The Climate Crisis | Episode 3

With Christine J. Picard, PH.D., Director, Forensic and Investigative Sciences Program, Purdue School of Science

How a warming planet is problematic for crime solving bugs

They are as common as your ordinary housefly, but these insects have a different duty call – they love death.n Blow flies have the ability to smell a cadaver from over one kilometre away and are typically the first insects to arrive on the scene. The routine that they perform plays an important part in forensics. Crime scene investigators rely on forensic entomologists to determine approximate times of death by analyzing the blow flies on cadavers.

Climate change, is forcing these insects to react. Christine Picard, Ph.D., is the Director of The Forensics and Investigative Sciences Program at the Purdue School of Science. According to the researcher, “All kinds of insects are moving north seeking more comfortable habitats including unwanted pests like ticks and mosquitoes.  She adds, “Blow flies will either, adapt, move or die.”

In their attempt to adapt, Picard’s team has discovered two species of blow fly that have migrated into what is uncharted territory for the winged creatures. What is raising alarm bells is that these particular species do not perform the same way as their native cousins – could this affect how crimes are solved in the future?

Find out on this episode of The Big Blue Marble.


As promised on the show,  here is a list of ideas on how to engage your kids to help reduce carbon.

  • Plant a tree
  • Let the kids paint and decorate your cloth shopping bag
  • Close doors immediately so heat/AC does not escape
  • Use a timer and make a game out of short showers
  • Walk or bike if you can (instead of having your parents drive you)
  • Turn off your computer/Ipad when not in use
  • Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth
  • Make sure your tires are inflated
  • Avoid idling in the drive thru – park and go inside
  • Conserve paper – use both sides
  • Donate/recycle old smartphones
  • Pack litter less lunches
  • Unplug your phone charger when not in use
  • Plant a garden
  • Buy local produce, engage kids to try and plot where it came from on a local map


Listen and Subscribe

Full Interview Transcript