Why do bugs die on their backs? (Smithsonian.com / ThinkStock)
Why do bugs die on their backs?

Well, they don't all die that way. But many succumb to the laws of physics in their final moments. It's at that point that normal blood flow stops, the legs contract, and the bug gets top heavy. Inevitably, it falls over onto its back.

Of course, a stiff breeze or a curious pet can have the same effect. And once it finds itself belly up, it can be pretty tough for an insect to get back on its feet.

Bugs can normally rock themselves upright. But if it's injured or it's weak or it's sick, it can have a really hard time coordinating its limbs. And even more so if a pesticide is disrupting its nervous system. That will cause spasms and ultimately, a total system shutdown.

Critical thinking challenge: Which law of physics do most dead bugs succumb to?

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Assigned 131 times

  • R.A.Micheal
    9/18/2014 - 08:35 a.m.

    Dead bugs succumb to the laws of gravity. Since gravity's job is to pull us down to the earth. It pulls liquid too. So it pulled the blood of the bug to its back since its blood flow had stopped, so it was top heavy. And it all pooled in the back of the bug because there was no system to move it around right.

  • MaseyWBlue
    9/18/2014 - 11:54 a.m.

    I was surprised to hear about how some bugs die just because they are a little bit weak and can't get back up after they have fallen over so they just die. -masey

  • 22103
    9/18/2014 - 12:51 p.m.

    This article explains why bugs end up on their backs when they die. Which is question that many people have asked for many years. One good thing about this is that scientists actually put some thought into this theory. A bad thing about this is that the scientists actually decided to put time into this instead of curing, I don't know, cancer. I dont find this story interesting at all. In short, nugs actually apply to physics once they die.

  • WV2001TacoBelll
    9/18/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    The dead bugs succumb to the law of gravity when they die. they are unable to get off their back because they are top heavy

  • RM00charlie
    9/18/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    i think its gravity because the story goes that when a bug dies the blood flow to the legs is cut off forcing it to topple over.

  • Alecl-OBr
    9/18/2014 - 01:35 p.m.

    wow,thats pretty cool. I dont know why bugs flip onto thier backs at all. It's kind of weird to be honest with you guys. But I dont' know why they put an article abiut this.the ideo is is really funny though. Thanks Mr. O'Brien for giving me this website!

  • StephanieM-Pay
    9/18/2014 - 01:39 p.m.

    gravity its what kept the bug down but when it died the blood and all that changes its full mass therefore changing the way that its will stay when it dies,so in other words gravity pulls the dead bugs body over

  • Wilfreda-OBr
    9/18/2014 - 01:44 p.m.

    that's strange how some bug's die on there back.That sound's hard to get back on there feet when you are on there back Then just suver to death.It would stink to be a bug and die like that on your back!

  • Wilfreda-OBr
    9/18/2014 - 01:44 p.m.

    That's strange how some bugs die on their backs. It must be difficult to get back on their feet. When these bugs are on their backs, it must be the law of gravity that is pulling the mass of their bodies down to Earth. They must just suffer to death. It would stink to be a bug and die like that on your back!

  • hystericalcat
    9/18/2014 - 02:02 p.m.

    It is weird that bugs die on their back. It must be hard to get back on there feet again. They would have to keep rocking it self until it gets back to normal.