Master of Disguise: A 'walking' dead leaf
Updated 11:26, 28-May-2019
By Xu Chenlu
["china"]
In areas of tropical Asia, it is common to see pieces of dried leaves move slightly with the breeze. However, if you got the chance to take a careful look, you might be surprised that some of these leaves are "walking" on their legs.
In fact, this is the disguise for a butterfly called the orange oakleaf. The insect also goes by the name Indian oakleaf or dead leaf butterfly.
General information of orange oakleaf. /CGTN Graphic

General information of orange oakleaf. /CGTN Graphic

The orange oakleaf lives in dense forests with moist climates where it can find enough tree sap and fruit as food. However, such an environment attracts not only the butterfly but also its predator — birds.
An orange oakleaf stands on a flower. /VCG Photo

An orange oakleaf stands on a flower. /VCG Photo

To trick birds, the orange oakleaf puts on a masquerade — when it stops at a place, it closes its wings to hide the conspicuous side with bright colors of orange and blue. Veins and irregular patterns on a brown base are revealed instead, perfectly mimicking a dry leaf, and escaping an attack from above.
The colorful side of the orange oakleaf's wings. /VCG Photo

The colorful side of the orange oakleaf's wings. /VCG Photo

The orange oakleaf is found mostly in tropical Asia and has several subspecies. Though it lives in a widespread area and is not on the IUCN Red List, it is still considered a rare species in China due to severe habitat loss.

About 'Master of Disguise' series

Camouflage and mimicry are two ways for creatures to disguise themselves. Disguise can either help them away from danger, or make themselves perfect predators when hunting for food. 
In this series, we are going to look at several species that are extremely good at disguise. For each article, there will be a game of finding the introduced species for you to try. 
(Cover image via VCG, designed by CGTN's Xu Qianyun)
(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at nature@cgtn.com.)