Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Blue Oakleaf
Kallima philarchus  WESTWOOD, 1848
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Kallima philarchus, male, Mumbai, India Anand Narkevar
The Indo-Australian genera Doleschallia and Kallima, and the African genera Kamilla, Mallika and Kallimoides are known as Dead Leaf butterflies. Their forewings have a strongly falcate apex, and the tornus of the hindwings is extended to form a short tail. The resulting shape, together with the cryptic underside colouration creates a remarkable resemblance to a dead leaf, complete with a false 'midrib' and markings resembling patches of mould and leaf galls. The disguise is particularly effective because there is huge intra-specific variation in the underside markings, and consequently birds and other predators are unable to form a 'search image' for the butterfly.
There are between 8-10 species in the genus Kallima - the exact number is open to interpretation as some taxonomists elevate some 'subspecies' or morphs to the rank of species.
There are 5 species found on the Indian subcontinent - alompra, horsfieldi, inachus, knyvetti and philarchus. The remaining species are distributed variously from Burma to Java.
Kallima philarchus is found in southern India and Sri Lanka.
This species is found in rainforest habitats at altitudes between about 100-800m.
The larval foodplant is Strobilanthes ( Acanthaceae ).
Adult behaviour

Early in the morning the butterflies descend from their overnight roosting places to settle in a head downward posture on woody stems or low foliage. If the sunlight is weak they will often bask with their wings fully outspread. Later in the day, in the dappled sunlight of the forest interior they settle on foliage to bask, and at these times they usually hold their wings half open.

I have on a few occasions accidentally flushed up males from the forest floor, where they settle amongst leaf litter, with their wings closed. At such times they are virtually impossible to spot, due to the incredibly effective dead-leaf disguise. If disturbed they immediately fly up and settle on a nearby branch.


Contact  /  About me

Butterfly-watching holidays

Trip reports

UK latest sightings

Frequently asked questions

Strange but true !

Taxonomy & Evolution



Enemies of butterflies

Survival strategies

Migration & dispersal

Habitats - UK / Palaearctic

Habitats - Tropical rainforests

Butterfly world census

Butterflies of the World :

British Isles


Amazon & Andes

North America

temperate Asia


Indian subcontinent

Malaysia & Borneo

Papua New Guinea

Australia & N.Z.

Insects of Britain & Europe

Insects of Amazonia

Moths of the Andes

Saturniidae - Silkmoths

Caterpillars of the World

Butterfly Photography

Recommended Books



Code of practice

Copyright - text & images

Copyright - text & images






All photographs, artwork, text & website design are the property of Adrian Hoskins ( unless otherwise stated ) and are protected by Copyright. Photographs or text on this website must not be reproduced in part or in whole or published elsewhere without prior written consent of Adrian Hoskins / learnaboutbutterflies.com

Site hosted by Just Host