The Valley of the Butterflies, Rhodes
The Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloùdes,Πεταλούδες in Greek) is a natural park located in the island of Rhodes, at a distance of 23 km southwest to Rhodes town.
It belongs to a Natura 2000 Protected Zone together with Seven Springs (Eptà Pigès, Επτά Πηγές) and Mt. Profitis Elias2. It is the place where tiger moths of the species Panaxia Quadripunctaria gather during summer. This species of butterfly is common in the Mediterranean, in Europe and in Western Asia; in Greece is also found in Crete and other islands, and in the southern part of the mainland Greece.
A small river, named Pelecanos, flows down to a narrow valley, ending with a waterfall that tumbles into a green pool. On the bends there is a forest of zitia, a species of tree that excretes an aromatic raisin, which is said to attracts the butterflies. The combination of the valley’s microclimate with its exceptional flora, creates the ideal environment for the breed of a large population of caterpillars, that live on the trees and feed from the tender leaves.
In the beginning of June, the caterpillar is transformed to a beautiful moth and moves towards the wetter areas. Flying only during the night, the butterflies spend the entire summer into the cool, humid habitat of the valley. They mate during the last weeks of August and in September, most females fly away from the valley – in some cases they fly for more than 25 km – to lay their eggs in safe dark places, preferably among bushes and the plants and then die.
During the summer visitors can observe a unique phenomenon that made the valley famous: millions of months gathered on the trees, in some cases covering entire tree trunks, resting the whole day.
A few years ago the river waters was reduced due to extended periods of drought. The butterflies disappeared year after year and no one suspected the moisture deficiency. A study carried out by the Department of Environment of the University of the Aegean provided the solution with the use of a recycling system for the water in the ravine.
*** The Valley is accessible in three points – in its lowest point the visitor can admire the natural history Museum and pavilions with exhibits and begin to traverse the path of 1300 meters to the canyon, beside river Pelekanos and end up to the highest point of the valley at the Monastery of Kalopetra.
Find useful details about the Location, operating hours, ticket prices and things to do nearby at the specialized website ValleyofButterflies.