Drowning Bugs

Rolypolyology coverRolypolyology

Submitter: Older science experiment books involving animals are always a bit scary.  This one contains an experiment that involves dropping the bugs in water and timing to see how long until they drown.  I’m sure there are better, more humane experiments available for kids to do as they learn about the insect world.

Holly: Seriously? The experiment is drowning bugs? This could be a cool book, but it will definitely raise some eyebrows with some people.

Rolypolyology title page

Rolypolies - miniature armadillos

Science experiment with rolypolies

Drowned rolypolies

Rolypoly cartoon

thorny headed worm


  1. Aside from the gross kill-the-bugs experiment, why would a girl (or boy) want a dung beetle climbing on her nose? Bugs may well be our friends and very necessary for the function of ecosystems, but a dung beetle on one’s face is just UCK.

    1. Arrgh — I had a smiley or two in my comment to you so it wouldn’t come across as superior/snide/whatever, and it vanished! So, er, mentally interject a nice happy smiley at least after “not even close” (I think that’s where it was).

    2. Sounds like you need to read this book.
      Armadillidiidae (the scientific name) are NOT dung beetles, and in fact aren’t even insects.

  2. Oh come on, guys, they’re bugs. The things you squish, spray poison on, use as fishing bait, etc. Drowning them isn’t that big of a deal. For all you know doing this might make a kid not grow up to do animal experimentations. Or you can weed out the potential serial killers ahead of time.

    Seriously, they’re just bugs. And the pesky kind at that. Not the useful ones like bees.

    1. I disagree. Yes, I discourage sow bugs and pill bugs in my strawberry beds (and resort to poisons when the diatomaceous earth isn’t enough), but that is a far cry from timing how long it takes for them to die by drowning. It is NOT an appropriate “experiment” for school children. My children studied “rolly-pollies” and crickets, we had pet hissing cockroaches. You can learn a lot more from live animals, even bugs, than from purposely drowning them. I would be horrified if my children were watching any living creature drown! They were raised to rescue drowning bugs! And to take worms out of puddles.

  3. My now 16 year old had a fascination with those roly poly bugs when she was a preschooler. She stuck one up her nose. I had to make her sneeze really hard to get it out. Yuck!

  4. There are billions of bugs in the world and if every single one lived its full life cycle the world would be destroyed. But there are also billions of humans and I really think we’re not all that different, we’re living longer lives and now the world is an overpopulated, horrible mess. The only difference is that humans have the intelligence not to breed… or not.

  5. I routinely practice bug drowning. One thing I recommend is use hot water. That way they cant pretend to be drowned and come back to life and crawl back up the drain.

  6. I know that some people think bugs are perfectly okay to kill, but when you compare roly-polies to armadillos like the book does, it makes it a little harder to kill them without feeling horribly cruel about it. Just my opinion. I don’t mind roly-polies a bit and while I wouldn’t want them invading my garden, I’d never time how long it takes them to drown for funsies. I’d be horrified if my (hypothetical) children thought what is basically torture is an okay hobby–one day they’ll see it’s okay to do with bugs, the next day they might think it’s okay to do with the cat. The only insects I usually kill are cockroaches and fleas, and even that I try to do as quickly as possible.

  7. When I was a kid I was fascinated by bugs and there tiny existence in a big dangerous world, and read a lot of books about them. So I can’t figure out how anyone can mistake a sow bug (as they’re called where I live) for a dung beetle! 🙂

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