The first time I looked at the Dead Leaf Butterfly, also known as the Oak Leaf Butterfly, I just stared at it for a minute.
Butterfly wings are so glorious and celebrated, but I’ve never really thought of them as a camouflage, especially not that in the form of a dried-out leaf.
And when you peep this butterfly that looks like a leaf, it’s perplexing. It looks so much like an actual leaf that it’s hard not to think it’s a leaf that happens to resemble a butterfly.
This Dead Leaf Butterfly Does Not Want To Be Seen
This butterfly’s disguise is brilliant. It hasn’t just gotten the colouring down of a dead leaf, but it also nailed the shape, the veins, and even a little bit of battering.
If you look at some of the pictures, you can see that the edges of the wings are ‘trimmed’. In this way, it resembles a beat up dead leaf that really could be found on a log or a forest floor.
It’s actually quite incredible, in this case, what nature can do.
Because of this, the butterfly gets to do exactly what its disguise is intended to do — it can dodge predators. Can you imagine how hard it must be for scientists and conservationists to even find this butterfly?
Furthermore, in addition to a genuinely eye-fooling lewk, here’s something absolutely incredible:
The texture of the outer wings — the ones that look like dead leaves — change from winter to summer. Isn’t that amazing? To help them further blend in, nature has provided this distinctive insect with the ability to go unnoticed in all seasons.
Summer, they’ll be a different, brighter tone of brown to make it look like they’re more fresh and new. Winter, the wings turn oldish-brown. They look dried out, tattered, and much more… dead.
Further to this, the inside of their wings — not the dead leaf part — is actually quite butterfly-glorious.
Where Can They Be Found?
The inside of the butterfly, shown below, looks just like a regular, beautiful butterfly. But the following photo shows how that same butterfly looks when the wings are closed.
Because of this, I’ll point out the obvious fact that it’s super hard to find them in the first place. But if you’ve got your keen observation skills ready to rock and you want to go and risk obscure diseases in jungles and things like that, then here’s where you’ll find this remarkable insect.
The Oak Leaf Butterfly comes from Tropical Asia. You can find this incredible specimen in areas ranging from India all the way to Japan.
If you’re looking for something closer to home, you can find it in South East Asia, including in Laos, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Why Does The Oak Leaf Butterfly Need Camouflage?
There are a lot of theories around why the orange oakleaf butterfly has two distinct forms, in addition to the general nature of camouflage. They’ve really managed to strike an ideal balance between hiding completely, while also exhibiting some really cool anti-predator strategies.
During the dry season, tropical butterflies are less active. So when they stay still and are not moving around much, camouflage is sufficient to hide from predators.
However, when the butterflies are more active, they display what are called “eyespot” patterns. These eye-like markings on their wings deflect birds, spiders, wasps, and ants from trying to take a nibble.
This butterfly is truly one of the most fascinating on the planet.