It was only after I took a closer look at the picture and identification by Yixiong that I realised I’ve caught a glimpse of a fearsome predator of the insect world.
This is a Robber Fly from the Order Diptera (true flies). True flies are distinguished from other flying insects by having only a single pair of wings while their hind wings are greatly reduced into flight balancing organs called halteres. Robberflies belong to the Asilidae family but we are not sure what this particular species is.
Taxonomic classification aside, it is the ecology of robber flies that’s really fascinating. They prey on all sorts of insects, from easy ones like butterflies to prey that can put up a good fight like wasps, bees, spiders and dragonflies. In fact, some species are specialist hunters who target specific prey. Upon successful capture, a robber fly will inject its prey with saliva containing neurotoxin and other enzymes which immobilise the prey and liquify the tissue. Thereafter, the robber fly will suck on the soupy meal.
Not sure how well robber flies are studied in Singapore. But unsurprisingly, there’s tons of information on the web. This website http://www.geller-grimm.de/general.htm is one of the more comprehensive.
Pictures taken at: Petai Trail, March 2008.
Geller-Grimm, F., T. Dikow & R. J. Lavigne. Robber Flies (Asilidae).