Kudremukh National Park is treasure trove for animal watchers. Entering into the Malleshwara township inside Kudremukh National Park on that day we spotted a cicada sitting on a moss covered tree branch. As I was photographing the cicada which was sitting higher up in the branch I noticed from the corner of my eye a dry leaf fluttering. It was unusual shaped dry leaf on a moist moss covered tree branch. On close inspection it turned out to be well camouflaged The South Indian Blue Oakleaf (Kallima horsfieldi) butterfly. I used my Canon EOS 5D mark II with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM to capture this using natural light.
Because of this highly camouflaged wings both in color and shape like Leaf it is highly difficult to identify in low lit rain forest. They take to wings with the least disturbance, and splashing blue colors of the upper side of wings are really amazing. Once they settle in any other branch even near by to you it is difficult to trace, simply they vanish in the nature. This method of rendering invisible is the adaptation of the insect which resembles some special object to which an enemy is indifferent. These butterflies present various types of color and pattern which closely resembles a dead leaf. When it is chased by a bird, it flies and perch on a branch or a trunk of tree, upside down. Then, it flutters its body, as if it is a dry leaf of the tree is moving due to the wind, completely making the bird perplexed, and the bird, fly’s away unable to locate it. Military has used this oak leaf pattern as a successful camouflage starting from WWII German SS “Oak Leaf” camouflage to the present day camouflage.
The South Indian Blue Oakleaf (Kallima horsfieldi) is a nymphalid butterfly found in India. The underside appears like a leaf complete with midrib while the upper side is brilliantly colored with shades of blue.
In the dry season form the upper side is indigo-blue in color. Underside simulating a dry leaf, but the resemblance on the whole is perhaps less perfect. Antennae dark brown; head, thorax and abdomen very dark greenish brown; beneath, the palpi, thorax and abdomen ochraceous earthy brown.
In the wet-season form they have a uniform pale blue of a slightly lighter or darker shade, varying individually, but not turning to white towards the costal margin as in the dry-season specimens. Underside: ground-color on the whole darker than in the dry-season form, but with the same protective coloring.
Mr. Balakrishnan Valappil has wonderfully captured the whole life history of this intriguing butterfly in a series of photos on Flickr. Check them out here – Life History of Blue Oakleaf (Kallima horsfieldi).
4 thoughts on “Blue Oakleaf Butterfly”
Oh I remember the Kudremukh visit.
I thought you would have posted Pampadour pigeon !
Amazing camouflage !
Dear Mr. Vallapil,
I am looking for a photo of a Blue oakleaf butterfly to go with an article for the students edition of Deccan Herald newspaper. If you don’t mind giving it to me for this please do email me.
Dear Sujatha Padmanabhan,
Sorry, Comment you wrote was on my website. I am not Mr. Vallapil, I gave link to his flickr stream for people to understand the life history of this beautiful butterfly.