Indian Oakleaf (16)
|I got lucky today! This huge butterfly landed in my school campus for some mud-puddling at a spot where some repairs in the playground are underway and wet earth has been turned up. I had seen only the pictures of this butterfly, so it was my first encounter with this wonderful species. The picture was taken with my Sony compact camera.|
Kallima inachus, the orange oakleaf, Indian oakleaf or dead leaf, is a nymphalid butterfly found in Tropical Asia from India to Japan. With wings closed, it closely resembles a dry leaf with dark veins and is a spectacular and commonly cited example of camouflage.
The butterfly wings are shaped like a leaf when in the closed position. When the wings are closed, only the cryptic underside markings are visible, which consists of irregular patterns and striations in many shades of biscuit, buff, browns, yellow, and black. The veins are darkened and resemble the veins of a leaf. The resemblance to a dried leaf, a masquerade, is extremely realistic and gives the genus its common names, the oakleaf or dead leaf.
When the wings are open, the forewing exhibits a black apex, an orange discal band and a deep blue base. There are two white oculi, one along the margin of the apical black band, and the other bordering the orange and deep blue areas. The hindwing is more uniformly blue but diffused with brown patches along the termen.
Male and female butterflies are similar except that the female is generally larger and has the apex of the forewing protrude to form a longer point. Females also tend to be more reddish on the underside and the yellow mottled markings tend to be paler. The butterfly exhibits polyphenism, i.e. there are specific dry-season and wet-season forms which differ in colouration and size; the wet-season form tends to be smaller.
The wingspan of the butterfly ranges from 85 to 110 millimetres (3.3 to 4.3 in)
The orange oakleaf is found in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, down to Tenasserim Hills. In Southeast Asia it occurs in southern China, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan, and Vietnam. It has been also recorded from Pakistan in 2000.
In India, the butterfly flies in the Himalayas at low elevations, from Jammu and Kashmir, through Garhwal and Kumaon to West Bengal, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and other states of the northeast. It is also found in central and peninsular India; it flies in Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh; i.e. along the central Indian highlands to Pachmarhi and Amarkantak, the Western Ghats south to Bhimashankar, and in the Eastern Ghats north of the river Godavari.
The status of the butterfly in India is "not rare", while in China, the butterfly is considered "rare".
The orange oakleaf is encountered up to an altitude of 1,800 metres (5,900 ft) in the hills; though Mark Alexander Wynter-Blyth records it as being encountered up to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in regions of heavy rainfall in thickly forested mountainous and hilly regions. In the Kumaon Himalayas, K. inachus has been recorded to inhabit tropical deciduous forest between 400 and 1,400 metres (1,300 and 4,600 ft) and subtropical evergreen forest above 1,200 metres (3,900 ft). In a survey of Chongqing municipality, China carried out from 1998 to 2004, K. inachis was found to inhabit moist broad-leaf forests.
The orange oakleaf is a powerful flier and usually flies in dense forests with good rainfall, amongst undergrowth and along stream beds. It is attracted to tree sap and over-ripe fruit, and is also known to mud-puddle.
Much pursued by birds, when in danger the orange oakleaf flies erratically, soon dropping down into the foliage and occupying a stationary pose with wings closed, so that the birds are very often quite unable to find them. In such a pose, the butterfly resembles a dried leaf and is perfectly camouflaged.
The natural enemies of the orange oakleaf include birds, ants, spiders, wasps (including Trichogramma species), and some bacteria.
PS: I will upload in Workshop its picture with closed wings to show how it looks perfectly like a leaf for camouflage.