Tracking movement and temperature selection of larvae of two forensically important blow fly species within a "maggot mass"
The current study responds to the lack of understanding about the temperatures experienced by individual blow fly larvae within "maggot masses." The temperature selection of both aggregating (in a mass) and nonaggregating larvae was compared and their pattern of movement assessed. Infrared imaging determined the temperatures within a mass and in the vicinity of the constituent individual larvae, whose movements were tracked by dyeing their tissues red. Individual Chrysomya rufifacies larvae selected temperatures above 27°C, significantly higher than the temperature selected by Calliphora vicina larvae (24.5°C). However, this same difference was not seen within a mass, with both species selecting temperatures around 28°C. Larval movement in a mass was nonrandom, indicating that larvae actively select their position in a mass. Furthermore, larvae have a strong tendency to select the hottest part of a mass; therefore, maximum mass temperatures might provide a reliable proxy for the actual temperatures experienced by larvae.