Forensics’ next tool: Hair-collecting caterpillars

Clothes moth larvae pick up tresses from human corpses to make shelters

9:44am, November 18, 2008

RENO, Nev. — Clothes moths will eat more than our wardrobe. Given a chance, they'll eat us too.

Casemaking clothes moth caterpillars can digest human hair and will feed on corpses. But it's not all bad news, scientists say.

Hair bits nipped off of corpses by caterpillars of the casemaking clothes moth, Tinea pellionella, can yield enough DNA to identify the deceased, according to entomologist Sibyl Bucheli of Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.

More from Science News