THE DEAD LEAF BUTTERFLY

The Dead Leaf butterfly




As far as insect mimics go the Dead Leaf butterfly - Kallima inachus is one of the very best. Incredibly, the leaf effect camouflage is only displayed when the wings are in the closed position. Once in place, the Dead leaf butterfly closely resembles a dry leaf with dark veins and even a stalk! It really is one of the very best disappearing acts!

The Dead Leaf butterfly - Nandini Velho
By contrast, when the wings are in the open position they display a colourful selection of opposing colours with no hint of what might follow.

The Dead Leaf butterfly can be found in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. While in Southeast Asia it occurs in southern China, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Presumably down to its incredible and extremely effective powers of mimicry the Dead Leaf butterfly in not considered rare in its native India, however in China, it is considered rare and consequently captive breeding programs have been put in place.

The male and female Dead Leaf butterflies are very similar to each other. The female is generally larger and the apex of the forewing (the 'leaf stalk') protrudes to form a longer point.

Habitat

The Dead Leaf butterfly - user:peellden
The Dead Leaf butterfly is a powerful flier and is usually found within dense forests with good rainfall, flying amongst the undergrowth and along stream beds.

It is attracted to and feeds from tree sap and over-ripe fruit, and like many other butterfly species they congregate on substrates like wet soil, dung and carrion to obtain nutrients such as salts and amino acids. This behaviour is mostly witnessed in the post-monsoon season.

The Dead leaf butterfly is mostly predated by birds and the leaf effect camouflage is believed to be an evolutionary response to this. When in danger it will start off its defence strategy by flying erratically, and then quickly changes to dropping down into the foliage. Once in place it will take on a static pose with its wings closed, and in this position the birds find it almost impossible to locate them.

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