zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog forensic entomology

The Insect Crown Witness

Crucial testimony without words

Many years ago I spent several highly enjoyable and educational months on the Trobriand Islands (nowadays also referred to as Kiriwina Islands) off the coast of the south-eastern end of Papua New Guinea. The islands became famous, because of Bronislaw Malinowski’s 1929 ethnographic book “The Sexual Life of Savages in North-Western Melanesia”. Local residents over there display a considerable knowledge concerning insects and their lives and on several, occasions I was warned not to drink from this or that stream because a particular insect had been sighted on or near the water, indicating a poor status of the water’s drinkability. I was also warned not to proceed any further into the jungle, when a particular species of fly was spotted that occurred when an animal corpse was somewhere nearby. —>