Because of their small size, insects are constantly accidentally crushed by objects and humans alike, sometimes even without notice. Also, because bugs are generally viewed by people as gross, disgusting pests, they are often smashed on purpose.
Insects belong to a group of animals known as invertebrates, which means they lack a backbone. So, to add support to the structure of the insect, they have a strong, hardy outer shell known as an exoskeleton. The exoskeleton is composed of a molecular substance known as chitin, a very strong compound composed mainly of carbon atoms. The exoskeleton can prevent many injuries to a bug, but only small damage. Depending on the insect, a large force can easily crack the exoskeleton. The familiar "crunch" of squishing bug is caused by the chitin molecules breaking up from each other.
SteppingEditProbably the quickest and most efficient way to smash a bug is to simply step on it. The weight of a human body (even a toddler) centered completely on one foot is more than enough force to squelch even the strongest exoskeletons of insects. Usually, bugs will be crawling on the ground, making them very easy targets to be squashed both accidentally and purposefully. Many people will opt to put a shoe on before stepping on them, however, because the thought of bug remnants on their foot is not pleasing. Most effective at squishing them are hard, completely flat shoes such as boots or heels, and stomping down on them with the front of the foot or heel. Boots and heels, which lack crevices, are just a flat surface against flat surface, leaving flattening outwards as the only place to go.
Additionally, the large majority of people will twist their foot from side to side or wipe it across the floor for bigger insects such as roaches. This smears the insect all over the floor and shoe, making death even more eminent. Squishing bugs via stepping on them is the most practiced method but is substituted sometimes for a handheld object because some people are disgusted by the crunchy, creamy feeling beneath their foot.
FlyswatterEditFor smaller, swifter bugs, such as the namesake of this tool, the fly, a flyswatter is a good method to employ killing bugs. They are usually composed of a plastic, lightweight handle with a mesh head to prevent air resistance, making the flyswatter faster. Its maneuverability and swiftness stack up nicely to that of a fly, and because of how common they are, most homes are equipped with at least one. However, a drawback of the flyswatter is that it doesn't pack much of a punch against larger insects like cockroaches and hard-shelled beetles. It's mainly meant for smaller bugs no more than 1/2 a centimeter. At most, it will just injure a larger bug, and thus a heavier object will be needed for them.
Other ObjectsEditPractically any object or item around the house can be used to smush a bug. A common, stereotypical tool is the rolled up newspaper, but like the flyswatter, it's limited to squashing only smaller insects. Heavy books, like a dictionary, offer a hard, smooth surface to effectively squish one. In addition, people can opt to take off their shoe and swat it (usually done because they disagree with the idea of the crunchy feeling beneath their feet.) However, its smart not to use a coveted object such as an expensive plate or trophy, because more than likely undesirable bug residue will stick to the surface.
Flying insects that wander around the road are often subject to being flattened across the grill or windshield of a fast moving vehicle. Although they are fast, contact with a car moving at 50 mph or more will completely splatter their bodies. Sometimes this can cause obstructions of view while driving, so just like rain, you can wipe them off with the windshield wipers (but it possibly might smear it worse). Their remains are often a prime target when wiping down a car.
In CultureEditSquishing insects is often seen as a very disgusting thing to do, everything from the sickening crunch to the creamy remains of the bug. Its probably the origin of the stereotypical grossness of bugs. People often remark things like "Ew" or "Gross" when accidentally stepping on one. Around the house, especially cockroaches, bugs are usually smashed, and even when they are causing no harm, they are innocently smushed. Every now and then TV shows, movies, and other media, such as Teen Titans Go!, Zoey 101, Mario Party DS, SpongeBob SquarePants, Men in Black, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and Indiana Jones have scenes or dialogue depicting insect crushing.
A common saying used by people around the world is squished like a bug (or some variation of it) in reference to something other than an insect being squelched.
- There is actually a bug named the Squash Bug, but it's named after its tendency to eat squash, not relating to squashing.