Scientists Study How Killer Flies Catch Prey

November 22, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. scientifically / ˌsajənˈtɪfɪkli / (adv.) – in a scientific manner
Example: We should look at the situation scientifically.

2. predatory / ˈprɛd əˌtɔr i / (adj.) – referring to animals that hunt and kill other animals for food
Example: Lions and tigers are examples of predatory animals.

3. pounce / paʊns / (v.) – to attack or jump toward someone or something
Example: The lizard pounced on the small insect.

4. prey on / preɪ ɒn / (v. phrase) – to hunt and then feed on an animal
Example: Sharks prey on smaller fish.

5. abdomen / ˈæb də mən / (n.) – the part of the body where the stomach is
Example: The animal’s abdomen is swollen.


Read the text below.
Scientists were able to record a video of how killer flies catch their prey even while flying.

Killer flies, known scientifically as Coenosia attenuata, are a type of fly that commonly live in Southern Europe. These very small flies are predatory and usually prey on insects. To know how killer flies choose and pounce on their prey, scientists did an experiment by recording a video of the flies’ movement. The scientists used moving beads and fruit-fly meals to attract the killer flies. The beads and the meals were of different sizes and moved at different speeds.

Based on the experiment, the scientists found that these tiny killer flies do not decide to pounce according to the size of their prey, as they go for both small and huge prey. Scientists also discovered that they do not follow any template or pattern when it comes to preying on other insects.

Instead, the scientists found that killer flies are more likely to attack prey if they are hungry. The hungrier the flies are, the more chances that they will pounce on prey.

Another interesting discovery about insects is the zombie-like honeybees in the United States. These honeybees are attacked by “zombie” flies, officially known as Apocephalus borealis. During the attack, zombie flies plant their eggs inside the honeybees’ abdomen. The eggs then develop into flies, which break their way out of the honeybee.  This, in turn, causes behavioral changes among the affected honeybees.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What are your insights on today’s article?
·         If you were a researcher, would you have done this experiment? Why?

Discussion B

·         What insect are you most interested in? Why?
·         Do you think most insects are pests? Why or why not?

November 22, 2015