Can Bugs and Insects Survive High Falls?

Can Bugs and Insects Survive High Falls?

Bugs and Insects Can Survive High Falls: Fact

Like cats, when a bug falls to the ground, it always seems to survive without as much as a scratch. Is it just lucky? Let’s find out in this month’s fact or fake.

From ants to spiders we’ve all seen these crawlers take a fall from a countertop or high ceiling and somehow manage to walk away unscathed. But how can this be? The answer is a simple one and all about physics and biology.

When falling, all objects have a terminal velocity directly proportionate to their size and shape that increases the speed at which it’s falling until it ultimately reaches the ground. Because most bugs have very little mass, the resistance of them falling is much greater than gravity pulling them down, allowing them to survive a fall without going “splat.” Bugs with long legs like spiders are able to extend their legs when falling to create drag that also lightens the impact.

Simply put, if you think of a feather falling to the ground, its small size and mass allow it fall to the ground gently, the same is true with small bugs and insects.

Sources:
“We solved the mystery of what will happen when an ant falls from the Empire State Building” The Verge
“Tumbling Creatures” The New York Times