Medium-sized scarabaeids in the subfamily Rutelinae, possibly either Anomala grandis or A. dimidiata, not infrequently strand themselves on the topmost floors of highrise blocks, where they risk the flatfooted wrath of fearful residents or a slow, scorching death on exposed corridors. This individual, which survived the depredations of a meep, simmered for a while on soft sheets that cast a gentle light on its coppery flanks. Only when it felt secure enough to plod on did the beetle reveal antennae with a trio of flattened terminal segments, a pair of miniature fans that offer their owners a sense of direction in skies of mixed signals.
At times, the bright green beetles give way to shiny brown ones, and each species appears to adhere to a phenological calendar timed to maximise their dates with destiny. The gormless spawn of juiced-up unions, which resemble pale, oversized maggots trapped in a twist, gnaw at decaying fibres or growing roots, lying under bark or soil until they break free from their old bodies to grub on the earth, raise their elytra and wing it to fresher parts. The garden city is also a land of bugs, and it is quite likely that those who'd hug its trunks never dreamed that there'd be enough deadwood in the heartlands to support a smattering of xylophagous insects – scarabs, longicorns, weevils, carpenter bees and termites – many of which bark up the wrong trees as they fly through a jungle of reinforced concrete and crash down on bedtime storeys.
Neither the beetles nor their eternal foes, the scoliids, enjoy the favour of islanders who balk at sharing their homeland with the birds and the bees. A family of wasps ranging in size from the length of a large bee to giants that rival a pinky, scoliids can inspire tremors even in those unfazed by outlandish insects. The effect is enhanced by the wasps' often deeply pigmented bodies and smoky wings, which add to the sense of menace exuded by an already imposing beast.
Distinguished from the similarly oversized pompilids by their markedly hispid bodies, less leggy proportions and shorter antennae, scoliids share with their cousins a strategy of successful niches. Instead of spiders, female wasps seek out scarab larvae, which they paralyse to serve as the provisions of a young parasitoid. At least four or five species have been recorded in Singapore, a paltry horde compared to the presumably greater local ranks of their prey. The larger wasps are not uncommon in suitable habitats such as coastal dunes and thickets, but are either overlooked or shunned except by naturalists who know their sting. A small member of the family in the bee-like genus Campsomeris occurs in local mangroves, where the adults feed on nectar in between forays for victims, and gather in loose parties to settle for the night. There's probably safety in numbers, even for hunters who rule the undergrowth by day but roost with uncommitted bedmates when it's too cold to fly and too dark to flee.