Why Roaches Die on their Backs?

Have you ever arrived home one evening to find roaches lifeless on their backs at the top of your kitchen counter? And you’ve always wondered why they do it. Continue reading to find out why roaches die on their backs.

If you’ve ever studied a dying cockroach closely enough, you’ll notice that it almost always falls flat on its back before departing this world for forever. Even though this isn’t true for every cockroach that dies, it is a rather common occurrence, especially among tamed roaches. Have you ever wondered why cockroaches die on their backs, as strange as it may seem?

Why Roaches Die on their Backs?


So, why do cockroaches die when they fall flat on their backs? Is it more comfortable to die this way, or is there any scientific explanation for it?

Cockroaches fall on their backs for a variety of reasons, one of which is because they are heavy on top. Their backs are rounded and oily, allowing them to slip and hide in small cracks. Their six long limbs assist in the carrying of their broad and heavy bodies, allowing them to have a higher center of gravity.

As a result, cockroaches carry a significant portion of their body weight on their backs. Researchers believe that when a roach is about to die, its high gravitational pull causes it to flip over on its back.

Its round back and weak limbs make it difficult to keep upright, especially on flat surfaces. The cockroach fights to get back up after falling over and eventually dies.

Is it true that all cockroaches die on their backs?

No, It’s unusual to find roaches dying on their backs in the woods. Predators (such as birds, geckos, spiders, and others) will either consume them or die naturally as a result of a lack of food or old age.

Aside from that, roaches in the wild may get back up rather easily because there are several items on the ground (e.g., twigs, leaves, etc.) that they can grasp and rise up rapidly. This is meant to imply that not all roaches die on their backs.

For those that do, there are a few reasons below that can help you understand why.

Cockroaches Die on Their Backs for various Reasons

1. Roaches’ Nervous Systems are Destroyed by Insecticides.

To stay stuck under the body, a cockroach’s limbs or legs require constant nerve stimulation. A normal cockroach’s limbs curl up because of a cluster of nerves in each leg that generates consistent stimulation and aids in movement coordination. Cockroaches relocate when they are dead for a variety of reasons.

The majority of herbicides and insecticides are neurotoxins (poisons the nervous system). The roach begins to have small seizures after the poison damages the leg nerves, and after a while, the cockroach flops over on its back. That’s why you can discover a cockroach living on its back; its legs can’t carry it up any longer. It’s just sitting there waiting to die.

Insecticides can also cause cockroaches to fall on their backs, in addition to the hefty back.

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2. Smooth, tiled floors are unappealing to cockroaches.

Smooth, polished, and tiled flooring are another factor that exacerbates the awful bug situation. The majority of insects and pests thrive in homes with smooth surfaces, but roaches are not one of them.

Only a small percentage of the millions of roach species on the planet constitute household pests. However, there are times when wild roaches inadvertently find their way into a home and are unable to leave, leaving them trapped inside.

Cockroaches have a difficult time crawling over a smooth marble surface. They usually slide and topple over, landing on their backs. Things quickly escalate into a life-or-death situation because, unlike in the wild, where they could easily grab something and stand up, there is nothing to grab here.

3. When a Cockroach Passes Away

Roaches have a balanced gravitational pull due to their long legs. They manage to stay upright fairly well when they are young and fit. When they get older, though, it’s a different story; their round-like back is slowly dragged towards the earth.

Old roaches find it extremely difficult to get back up after falling over, especially on smooth floors, due to deteriorating muscles (due to age).

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Most Commonly Asked Questions

When Cockroaches are Dead, Why Do They Move?

It’s hard to think that the cockroach’s brain doesn’t coordinate all of its body’s movements. Instead, the legs are controlled by their own neural system. That’s why, even if the roach’s head is chopped off, it will wiggle around and try to stand up. This roach will die eventually, but not because it is headless, but rather because it is thirsty and hungry without a mouth to feed. Isn’t it incredible?

Why Do Cockroaches Pretend to Be Dead?

If you come across a roach that is resting on its back and not moving at all, keep your eyes on it. The cockroack is most likely pretending to be dead. This is an ingenious approach to fool predators into believing the cockroach is dead. As a survival tactic, most roaches will do this on purpose. There are times, though, when the cockroach’s body takes control and does so as a defensive strategy (state of tonic immobility). When insecticides are applied, this is the most common occurrence. It can remain in this state for up to a week, attempting to combat the poison it absorbed.

Roaches can only stay on their backs for so long before they die.

What caused the cockroach to fall on their back in the first place will determine this. If it flipped as a result of inhaling an insecticide, the length of time it stays on its back is determined on the intensity and quantity of the spray inhaled. It may take a few hours or days if it slipped and overturned on a polished surface, depending on the roach’s strength.

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Final Thoughts

Even while most roaches die on their backs in a homestead setting, this is not the case for all roaches. It usually depends on the cause of death. Cockroaches in the wild are most often eaten by various predators or die naturally of old age.

Collin Miller

Since 2002, Collin has specialized in the pest control industry. He has a Pest Control and Termite Control Commercial Applicator License. He serves on the Missouri Pest Management Association board of directors as a director at large, and he attempts to provide a personal touch in pest eradication to customers in the Ozarks. When the weather is great, Collin enjoys working in his yard, cooking, and hanging out with family and friends, as well as watching football.

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