Image: Stage 5: Butyric fermentation - 20 to 50 days after death
Stage 5: Butyric fermentation - 20 to 50 days after death. The pig is now very flat and beginning to dry out.
- R. Major
- © Australian Museum
State of decay
All the remaining flesh is removed over this period and the body dries out. It has a cheesy smell, caused by butyric acid, and this smell attracts a new suite of corpse organisms.
The surface of the body that is in contact with the ground becomes covered with mould as the body ferments.
The reduction in soft food makes the body less palatable to the mouth-hooks of maggots, and more suitable for the chewing mouthparts of beetles. Beetles feed on the skin and ligaments. Many of these beetles are larvae. They hatch from eggs, laid by adults, which fed on the body in earlier stages of decay.
The cheese fly consumes any remaining moist flesh at this stage, even though it is uncommon earlier in decay.
Predators and parasitoids are still present at this stage including numerous wasps and beetle larvae.