In June 2022, a video of a large fly went viral on social media.
Why? Why did millions of people watch and share this video of a fly? Well, because the viral version of the video was accompanied by a caption claiming that this fly was actually one of several "polymer drone flies" that were in use by the U.S. military.
The video does not show one of the insect-size drones used by the U.S. military. Rather, it appears to show a type of botfly called Cuterebra ruficrus.
The video has been online for at least a year. While it has been posted dozens of times on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, Telegram, VK, and Instagram, it has never been accompanied by any evidence to support the "drone" claim. If it truly showed a drone, how did the videographer obtain it? If the video truly showed a drone, why didn't the videographer show any of its mechanical parts?
No evidence has been provided to support this claim for the simple reason that this video doesn't actually show a military drone. It's just a fly. Here's a comparison of the fly in the video (left) and a photograph of a Cuterebra ruficrus that was taken by Crowdy Pollock in 2019:
You can see more photographs of Cuterebra ruficrus here.
While the viral video does not show a polymer fly drone, insect-sized drones really do exist. Here's a video of the "Black Hornet" drone, which measures less than 7 inches in length and weights in at less than a tenth of a pound.
FLYMOTION. “FLIR’s Black Hornet Is the World’s Smallest Military Drone.” FLYMOTION, 5 Nov. 2021, https://flymotionus.com/2021/11/05/flirs-black-hornet-is-the-worlds-smallest-military-drone/.
jannefi. “Polymer Drone Fly?” HoaxEye, 12 June 2022, https://hoaxeye.com/2022/06/12/polymer-drone-fly/.
“Photos of Cuterebra Ruficrus · INaturalist NZ.” INaturalist NZ, https://inaturalist.nz/taxa/552727-Cuterebra-ruficrus/browse_photos. Accessed 20 June 2022.
Species Cuterebra Ruficrus. https://bugguide.net/node/view/459244. Accessed 20 June 2022.
What Can a Black Hornet Drone Do? www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IkaP6XMNZw. Accessed 20 June 2022.