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Butterflies of the Indian subcontinent
Blue Oakleaf
Kallima philarchus  WESTWOOD, 1848
Family - NYMPHALIDAE
subfamily - NYMPHALINAE
Tribe - KALLIMINI
Kallima philarchus, male, Mumbai, India Anand Narkevar
Introduction
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.
Habitats
This species is found in rainforest habitats at altitudes between about 100-800m.
Lifecycle
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.

 

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