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Facts About the Indian Leaf Butterfly

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Also called the Kallima or dead-leaf butterfly, the Indian leaf butterfly has an interesting adaptation to protect him from predators. The tops of his wings sport several brilliant colors, but the bottoms are dull, brown and full of veins -- just like a dead leaf. With millions of dead leaves scattered in his chosen habitat, the Indian leaf butterfly has plenty of places to hide.


The top of an Indian leaf butterfly's wings showcase several colors -- blue, dark brown, white and orange, usually in diagonal stripes across the front wings. This display makes the butterfly easy for birds to spot when he's flying. When his wings are closed, however, it's a different story. The light brown coloring and the way the wings fold up mimic a dead leaf. The wing veins look more like raised ones in a leaf rather than the delicate ones generally found in butterfly wings.


The dead-leaf butterfly doesn't fly much. When he finds a tasty morsel, he settles there and doesn't usually move unless threatened or when it's time to search for more food. Not a strong or fast flyer, this butterfly flits back and forth in an erratic pattern rather than flying straight. This tactic helps prevent birds from predicting or tracking his movement and makes him more difficult to catch as prey.


The Indian leaf butterfly lives in the tropical rain forests in Asia, found in countries such as India, New Guinea and China. The rain forests provide a constant stream of food and places to hide. With a forest floor often covered in dead leaves, the butterfly can simply sink to the bottom and close their wings for adequate camouflage. Even hanging upside down from a branch with green leaves offers some protection; he still looks like a dead leaf about to drop rather than a butterfly.


Many butterfly species dine on nectar from flowers, but the Indian leaf butterfly prefers other sweet fare. He enjoys an occasional flower treat, but he typically stays near the forest floor to seek out fallen fruit. As the fruit begins to rot and soften, it makes an easy and plentiful meal for the butterfly. The insect also feeds on sticky sap leaking from trees when it's available.