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Andy Nguyen
By Andy Nguyen July 6, 2022

Facebook video shows an actual fly, not a ‘polymer drone’

If Your Time is short

  • The video shows a person handling an actual fly, not a mechanical drone used by the U.S. military.
  • The military does use small drones, but they are about 7 inches long and use rotor blades to fly.

A video circulating on social media claims to show a new piece of technology from the United States military: a miniature drone made to look and act like a large fly.

The video was shared in a June 13 Facebook post and shows a person holding a fly between their fingers. The fly buzzes and wiggles its legs before flying away.

A caption with the post includes several hash tagged words, "#drones #flies #military," and a tweet superimposed on the video says "polymer drone flies, used by the U.S. military."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.) 

Although the military does use miniature drones, there is no evidence the fly being shown in the video is one of them. The video includes no audio that would imply that what the person is holding is a mechanical drone and features only the sounds of rushing wind and the fly buzzing away.

The thing the person is holding looks similar to Cuterebra ruficus, a type of botfly (which, in this case, is not short for "robot") found primarily in the southwestern U.S. Pictures of the fly online show the fly is similar in appearance and size to what’s being held in the video.

A drone that the military does use, however, is known as the "Black Hornet." Made by Teledyne FLIR, it weighs less than 1.6 ounces and is about 7 inches long. It’s considered the world’s smallest military drone.

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Rather than having flapping wings like the insect seen in this video, the drone uses rotor blades similar to a helicopter to fly.

Separately, a British biomechanical company is developing a drone that uses flapping wings, but it’s only in the prototype stage.

Alex Caccia, chief executive of Animal Dynamics, told the BBC in 2020 that his company is developing a drone that's inspired by a dragonfly. Called the Skeeter, the drone uses four wings to fly. However, the drone's prototype is about 8 inches long — not nearly as small as the fly in the video.  

Caccia also said "making devices with flapping wings is very, very hard" and it'll be some time before a production version of the Skeeter is ready.

Our ruling

A video shared to Facebook claims to show a person handling one of the "polymer drone flies" used by the U.S. military. No proof in the video or post is offered to show that the person is holding something other than a type of botfly.

The U.S. military does use an insect-like drone called the "Black Hornet," but it is several inches long and uses rotor blades to fly.

We rate this claim False.

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Facebook video shows an actual fly, not a ‘polymer drone’

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