Why Do Roaches Die Upside Down? (3-Minute Read)

If you’ve ever sprayed a cockroach with a bug spray, then you must have surely noticed that they’ll turn on their back when they die. This is actually a characteristic of many bugs, as there are literally thousands of species that will lie on their back once you kill them. For this particular reason, many people wonder, why do roaches die upside down?

Roaches usually die upside down because you kill them with a bug spray and the spray causes their muscles to spasm. When their muscles start to convulse, they turn them on their backs, and once paralysis tunes in because of the spray, they die like that.

So, now you’ve got the simplest explanation, but there are actually many interesting conclusions we can take away from that. Today, we’ll be taking a bit of a closer look into cockroaches’ lives, or more particularly; their deaths. In this article, we’ll be providing you with answers to questions like: why do cockroaches turn upside down when they die, why do roaches come out to die, how long can they survive on their back, and what kills a roach instantly.

Let’s get started!

Why Do Cockroaches Turn Upside Down When They Die?

We gave you the simplest answer, the chemicals in the bug spray cause the roach’s muscles to convulse and turn it on its back. It takes the chemicals just a few seconds for this to happen, and once it does, the paralysis will kick in and paralyze the roach like that. Following that, the roach will stay like that until it’s dead.

You also have to understand that their center of gravity lies far upon their backs, so it’s easy for them to be knocked over unless they have full control over their balance. This, however, will almost never happen in the wild (unless they die on some sort of slope), and it only happens when they’re sprayed to death.

Roaches die upside down because of muscle spasm and a high center of gravity

The insecticide used in these sprays affects the nervous system, causing various enzymes to build in the cockroach. These enzymes ultimately lead to muscle spasms, and since it’s so easy for them to be thrown over because of their small, but heavy bodies – they end up lying on their backs.

This is unlikely to happen in nature as roaches are walking on uneven and bumpy surfaces. So if you spray a roach in your garden there is a good chance of it dying upside up.

Can Roaches Die Upside Down Without Being Poisoned?

Yes, it can happen but is a quite rare situation, because roaches do have the natural instinct and capability of flipping back easily. They fall from trees, bushes, plants, and many other natural edges. They would have died out if flipping over were a death sentence.

Nevertheless it can happen that they can’t flip back again.

Usually, this happens in the artificial human environment and with roaches who have somehow lost this essential ability. Mainly this is the case with old or weakened insects with a lack of power and coordination. The hard human floors don’t provide enough friction and holding points to turn back (even if they could flip back in a natural environment).

This is also the reason why they turn around unintended. The high center of gravity and too little friction on the ground leads to this uncontrolled maneuver.

Why Do Roaches Come Out to Die?

Most animals are known to look for secluded, silent areas when they feel that they’re facing their final days.

Cockroaches, on the other hand, are often reported to come out and show themselves before they die – as if they want everyone to watch. Scientists are still debating on this one, but there are several theories.

One impression people often get is an increase in the number of roaches because there are so many pests visible now. But pest control isn’t going to bring in more pests into your home, so, if you see roaches coming out after pest control has left, it’s not because they didn’t get poisoned – it’s because they did.

Pest control doesn’t bring in more pests.

Sure, you’ll be swiping the floors a lot after the pest control has left your home, but they didn’t necessarily kill all roaches immediately – they did poison all of them, though.

So, when the poison kicks in, it’s likely that it completely disrupts their brains, causing them to come out – they’re not aware that they’ll die, and they have no idea why they’re coming out, they just know that they have to come out.

Roaches come out to die because their poisoned brains don’t work properly

It may also be that they’re not doing this because they feel the need to, but because they honestly can’t control themselves. It’s possible that these are just muscle spasms. However, that doesn’t explain why all roaches concentrate on the same area.

How Long Can A Roach Survive Upside Down?

Since the roaches are relatively small and lightweight it is no problem for their hard skin to remain intact and protect the organs from being squashed (like whales are).

Also, they don’t have any problems with fresh air since they breathe via tiny openings in their exoskeleton (called the trachea). These ventilation spots are not obstructed while lying upside down.

But since they constantly try to flip back they will get exhausted which can be one reason for dying soon. This can take hours or even a day.

The more likely way to die is by starvation. Cockroaches are tough and can survive for a very long time without food or water. Though they need some.

Depending on their last meal it can take up to one week without water and several weeks without food until they die. That said, it’s clear a roach lying upside down doesn’t have to be dead.

And sometimes they do have a special trick.

Roaches Without Movement Can Be Alive

Cockroaches in danger are sometimes using the not-moving-trick to protect themselves from predators. It’s a mixture of not being seen and supposed to be dead (and therefore not the best meal).

Roaches play dead at times.

Lying upside down in your kitchen without movement can be a trick to survive your presence. After leaving the room (to get cleaning wipes or anything else) the roach could detect the danger is gone and try again to flip back.

What Kills A Cockroach Instantly?

Well, apparently, cockroaches can survive both a nuclear blast and the radiation that’s following it. However, they can’t survive you stepping on it with your shoe.

Yup, using your shoe is the most effective way of getting rid of a cockroach. However, if you don’t like getting all up close and personal with them, you can buy bug spray, that’ll also kill them instantly.

Interestingly enough – soap water. You can make a simple mixture of soap water and spray it on them, they can’t survive this (this makes it even more weird that they can survive a nuclear blast).

Lastly, pest control. If you have problems with a roach infestation, call pest control, they can’t survive pest control.

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