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Why Do Cockroaches Die on Their Backs?

If you’ve ever found a dead cockroach, you know that a) they’re gross, but b) they seem to die on their backs.

So why do cockroaches die on their backs?

In short, scientists think cockroaches die on their backs because of either their greasy backs or the pesticides we use to kill them.

Yes, cockroaches have greasy backs, and it can actually lead to them dying on said greasy back. The stuff we use to kill them also makes their body do weird stuff, so that’s what I’m going to explore a bit more in this post.

Wait – cockroaches have greasy backs?


Cockroaches have a greasy back that is slightly rounded, and a flat body– both of which qualities help them fit in narrow cracks and crevices. Their long legs also give them a high center of gravity, allowing them to carry most of their weight on their backs.

What does this have to do with them dying?

So when a cockroach is dying of old age, its center of gravity pulls its back toward the floor because its rounded back and weakened muscles cannot hold it up, particularly on smooth surfaces.

How do neurotoxins fit in?

Many of the roach sprays we employ can have a similar impact. The majority of these insecticides are neurotoxins – poisons that can produce tremors and muscular spasms, causing the cockroach to flip on its back in the end.

A healthy cockroach can easily right itself, but the tremors and lack of muscle coordination caused by intoxication prevents them from flipping over. This is additionally compounded by a rounded back and high center of gravity.

Other reasons cockroaches might die on their backs

While their greasy backs and pesticides are the two most widely-accepted reasons for why cockroaches die on their backs, there are a few other theories I’ve happened across in talking to my pest control colleagues:

Lack of oxygen

One of the primary reasons why cockroaches die on their backs is because they lack oxygen. Cockroaches breathe through tiny holes in their abdomens, and when they are on their backs, these holes are blocked and they can’t breathe.


Another reason why cockroaches die on their backs is that they can become dehydrated. Cockroaches rely on water to keep their bodies hydrated, and they cannot reach water to drink when they are on their backs, and this can eventually lead to death by dehydration.

Exposure to predators

Cockroaches are also at risk of exposure to predators when they are on their backs. This is because cockroaches are not very good at defending themselves when they are upside down and are easy prey for predators such as birds or other insects.

Unable to eat

Another reason cockroaches die on their backs is because they cannot eat. Cockroaches typically feed on food lying on the ground, and when they are upside down, they cannot reach the food they need to survive.


Finally, cockroaches may also die on their backs due to stress. When cockroaches are flipped over onto their backs, it can be a very stressful experience for them, and this stress can eventually lead to death.

How to prevent cockroaches from the start

Now that you’ve been dutifully educated on why these sick bugs die on their back let’s talk about the real reason you came here — how to prevent cockroaches from ever getting into your house.

Keep your kitchen clean

Cockroaches are attracted to food, so the first step in preventing them is to keep your kitchen clean. Wipe down counters, sweep and mop floors, and wash dishes regularly.

Store food in airtight containers

Cockroaches can squeeze into tiny spaces, so storing food in airtight containers is important. This will help to keep them out of your food and prevent them from getting into your pantry or cupboards.

Don’t leave food out

If you don’t want cockroaches in your home, don’t leave food out. Put leftovers in the fridge or freezer as soon as possible, and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight.

Keep garbage sealed

Another way to prevent cockroaches is to keep your garbage sealed. They’re attracted to the smell of food, so if you have an open garbage can, they’ll be sure to find it. Invest in a tight-fitting lid for your garbage can, and empty it regularly.

Seal cracks and crevices

Cockroaches can fit into tiny spaces, so it’s important to seal any cracks or crevices around your home. This will help to keep them out and prevent them from getting inside.

Use roach traps

Roach traps are an effective way to get rid of cockroaches without using chemicals. These traps lure cockroaches inside with bait, then kill them with a sticky surface or poison.

Use roach sprays

If you have a roach problem, you may need to resort to using roach sprays. Many different types of sprays are available, so read the label carefully before purchasing one.

Use roach baits

Roach baits are another effective way to eliminate cockroaches without using chemicals. Baits contain poison that kills cockroaches when they eat them, so be sure to place them where children and pets cannot reach them.

More frequently asked questions (FAQs) about cockroaches

How do I get rid of cockroaches?

There are many ways to get rid of cockroaches, including roach traps, sprays, or baits. Be sure to read the label carefully before purchasing any product.

Are cockroaches dangerous?

Cockroaches can be dangerous if they come into contact with food. They can also spread disease and allergens.

Do cockroaches bite people?

Cockroaches do not typically bite people, but they may bite if they are threatened or feel threatened.

Do cockroaches fly?

Cockroaches can fly, but they do not typically fly unless threatened.

How fast do cockroaches move?

Cockroaches can move quickly, up to three miles per hour.