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

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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

  • christopherdog10
    9/18/2014 - 02:11 p.m.

    I think its kind of weird that a bugs die on its back,because like why don't they die like a human.Its also weird that it dies because the blood stops flowing and its legs get stuck.I think its hard for bugs to live.

  • rubelm-Koc
    9/18/2014 - 02:40 p.m.

    It would be reasonable for that to happen due to Physics but I don't see why that would be so intresting it becomes a discussion

  • Svelazquez
    9/18/2014 - 06:34 p.m.

    It is a good thing to know that the bugs actually die. It is a bad thing that the bugs die in such a cruel manner. It is an interesting fact, now I know how they die and why they die on their back.

  • haileya5
    9/18/2014 - 07:02 p.m.

    The scientific concept that relates to this article is gravity. When the bug is going through its last moments, the blood stops flowing and the legs come up. Which then makes the bug top heavy causing the gravity to flip the bug over belly up.

  • LucasF-1
    9/18/2014 - 07:51 p.m.

    When bugs are dying, the legs contract due to lack of blood flow. The bug then gets top heavy and it eventually falls over. This can also be caused by the wind and animals. I thought this article was interesting because I always wondered why bugs die the way they do.

  • JonathanAA-4
    9/18/2014 - 08:27 p.m.

    This article is about why insects fall on their back when they die. They do this because blood flow stops and their legs contract then. They get top heavy and usually just fall on their backs. If a bug gets tipped over they can usually rock them selves back over.If a bug is injured, weak, or sick it can't tip back over. This leads to the bug dying. I found this article interesting because I've always wondered about why bugs die on their back.

  • GriffinO-5
    9/18/2014 - 08:40 p.m.

    The reason bugs die on their back is because of physics. Their blood flow stops causing their legs to contract and fall on their back. There are other things that can cause them to fall over so bugs are used to flipping themselves back over. But if there is something messing with their nervous system or they're hurt, it can cause them to have a troubleing time getting back up. Things that can cause this may be pesticides(bug spray) or sickness. I think its kinda funny that if most bugs die like this then they all die seeing the same thing, the sky. Unless they're squashed by something.

  • LucasU-5
    9/18/2014 - 08:47 p.m.

    The article shows that an insect or bug succumbs to physics. In the time near their death the flow of blood will stop and the legs will contract. Later the bug will become extremely top heavy and will logically fall backwards. Usually the bug will be able to get back up, but if it has an injury of sorts it will probably not be able to get back up. If their is pesticide in their bodies they will actually spasm and have a complete death.

  • Alyssa Van Dusen
    9/18/2014 - 09:05 p.m.

    Not all bugs die on there backs, but when they do die the blood flow stops and there legs contract. When a bug is on its back it is hard for them to roll over and get back on there feet so that is a sign that the bugs life has come to an end. Bugs can usually allow themselves to go upright unless they are weak and are unable to. The bugs succumb to physics and one law in particular. This article was the perfect length but could have added more detail and evidence. Other than that this was very interesting to learn about and when people with ask I will have the answer.

  • MiloW-4
    9/18/2014 - 09:27 p.m.

    When bugs die, most of them end up on their back. They do this because gravity forces the body on its back because the bug becomes top heavy. They become top heavy their blood flow stops and the legs contract and make the bug top heavy. When a bug gets stuck on its back, it becomes very hard for the bug to get back up. Normally, bugs can rock themselves back up when they are on their back, but if the bug is injured or it is sick, it will have a really hard time to correctly use their limbs. I find this interesting because i never knew how bugs die. It is cool to know how physics affect bugs and how fatal it can be.

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