Why bugs die when crushed.

This seems like a simple question, why do bugs die when smashed, but I have been thinking for a while and searching no no avail.

When a person’s head is cut off they die because the lack of oxygen through blood to the brain and severing of the central nervous system causes them to loose consciousness indefinitely. When a person drowns in water it is because a lack of oxygen circulating. When an insect; say an ant or fly is drowned it is because their tracheae are filled with water and all gaseous oxygen is used up.

However when you crush an insect such as a fly it has no blood crying oxygen. When flies or other bugs are crushed they ooze out Hemolymph which is a fluid they use to transport nutrients, but if their cells can store nutrients why would they die instantly.

I have also heard that the stomodaeal nervous system is what maintains most of their body functions, but even without those body functions wouldn’t the cells continue to live? Also if the brain were crushed and the nervous system was still intact would they be fine?

I apologize if I worded that in a confusing way, or if I’m just not seeing the forest through the trees, but if anyone could clear this up for me it would be greatly appreciated!

Is this supposed to be, “like, woah that’s deep man”?

This is a joke, right?
If I crushed you, would your cells continue to live for a while? Would you still be dead?

Severe mechanical stress will always kill living things - it wrecks their machinery.

If severe mechanical stress always kills living things then why do many deep sea organisms live under “severe mechanical stress” the lantern fish lives around 1500 meters under the surface of the ocean which is roughly 200 atm of pressure, that’s quite severe…

Thank you for your condescending answer but I’m not an idiot. There are many organisms that live under much higher pressures than 200 atm, some deep sea creatures inhabit the abyssopelagic zone which is about 4000 to 6000 meters below the surface which can be called severe mechanical stress…

Woah, that’s like, deep man!

Why do you insist on trolling someone who asked entirely out of curiosity?

There is a real question in the act of crushing a bug. Something has to happen to it internally as a result of the stress upon it for it to die. I am asking what that is.

Constant high pressure is different than sudden crushing of a bug. Simply put they die because the systems required for living are destroyed.

I’m sure that unless a bug is smashed flat enough so that every cell ruptures, some of the cells will live for some time before dying. In fact, even in humans, cells can live for days after death:

Maybe another way to phrase the OP’s question is what happens if you remove the head of a bug without damaging the body (e.g. does it starve/dehydrate or die sooner). At least, that is how it sounds to me since he compares it to a person being beheaded (indeed, this page says they (cockroaches) can live for weeks without a head).

Keep in mind that the scale difference means that if you crush an insect, you are typically doing a lot of damage. It’s not like you’re breaking just a leg or head, you’re breaking up most of their exoskeleton into pieces and mashing their internal organs. Pretty much nothing it has is going to work right after that, and you’ve just exposed its inner workings to the air as well; which will promptly be cooked by unshielded UV and dried out. Even something as decentralized as a plant will generally die if you mash it to a similar degree.

How does someone die when you vaporize them with a phaser set to maximum?

They don’t seem to die instantly if they’re not entirely crushed flat - I’ve used the “fingernail wrapped in toilet paper” piercing method on silverfish and little roaches (don’t know what they’re called, but they’re like a quarter the size of normal cockroaches, which I kill with shoes), and the little buggers don’t seem to notice, even after multiple severe breakages of the carapace. Even split entirely in half, the halves still wiggle about for a good long time.

Think about it this way - if you smush them entirely (like a shoe) then even if the cells themselves are not dead, all of the connections are fucked up so badly that it doesn’t matter. In absence of a check for neural firings or cell death, we generally go with “it’s not moving so it’s dead” when in reality, the likelihood is that “it’s been smushed so badly that it CAN’T move, and it will die soon.” Not much difference visually, you know?

frog legs can twitch and the frog is no longer attached.

all movement is not life.

Those are probably German cockroaches, which think your home is Poland.

I put mouthwash in a squeeze bottle and it drops them cold. No twitches. No tiny little screams. Nothing but death in a brown shell. Don’t know why it’s seemingly instantaneous. However, I think that the most important question raised by the OP is, “Why is this in MPSIMS instead of General Questions?”

Moderator Note

zfoltz, accusations of trolling are not permitted outside of the Pit. No warning issued, but don’t do this again.


Well, if all the usual reasons are absent (why a crushed higher organism would die), then there remains an obvious possibility:

Maybe crushed bugs, however flatly two-dimensional they are rendered, don’t die! They could, for all we know, be just as alive (although maybe not quite as healthy) as a fully 3-dimensional pre-crushed bug. For many species at least, they are just as useful either way.

[sub]Uh… Is this roughly the answer you were looking for?[/sub]

The cells die because the environmental conditions for the cells are no longer suitable for life (no nutrients, waste not removed, predation, dehydration, UV light as Der Trihs said). Some cells may not die. You might question whether these cells, which can survive independently of the insect, are part of the insect, or bacteria. E.g. there is a significant number of cells in the human body that might be considered part of the human, or not. Most of these cells are found in the gut and on the skin.

The insect dies because… what do you consider death? Ceasing respiration? Heartbeat? Brain activity?

Moved from MPSIMS to GQ.

General Questions Moderator

They don’t live under any “stress” at all, since the pressure inside their bodies is the same as the pressure outside. They’re under no more stress than we are due to atmospheric pressure.

If you were crushed, you would die. If a creature living 20,000 feet under the sea was crushed, it would die.

It is not currently being ‘crushed’ by the natural environment to which it is adapted any more than you are being crushed by the air pressure to which you are adapted.

However, what happens when you are in the shock wave of an explosion? You are ‘crushed’ by the pressure wave, just as surely as you would be if someone dropped a piano on you.

How big a piano we talking here?