Visit the Valley of Butterflies. A unique sightseeing in Rhodes!
A Dreamy Place Full of Butterflies
A unique nature reserve is to be found inland on Rhodes Island, “Butterfly Valley” or in Greek “Petaloudes Valley”. It sounds like a dreamy place and truly is! It is one of the most famous attractions of Rhodes that is certainly worth a visit.
Only 10 km from the airport and 25 km from the town of Rhodes, you can visit the famous Valley of the Butterflies. This is a habitat with dense flora, breathtaking natural beauty, harmonious structures of bridges with the environment, paved paths, ponds, small inexhaustible waterfalls, serene atmosphere and a unique experience for the visitors. The only sound the visitors can hear there is the chirping of the cicadas and the murmuring of the cool water. An excellent place for families with children who wish to enjoy the beauties of nature and examine the life cycle of butterflies as part of their summer holiday.
Apart from its aesthetic value, it is also the site of the only natural forest of Liquidambar orientalis or in Greek “Zitia” (Oriental Sweetgum trees) in Europe, and a resting point for the Panaxia Quadripunctaria (Jersey tiger), a nocturnal moth. These trees secrete special substances that attract the butterflies making the valley a breeding place for the butterfly Panaxia Quadripunctaria. This is a rare habitat that hosts the butterfly Panaxia Quadripunctaria, which makes its appearance in this unique natural park in the period from May to late September.
Visitors can witness a spectacular phenomenon which occurs only rarely in nature. Huge numbers of butterflies congregate in this small valley during the final stage of their life cycle. Every year, at the end of the wet season (May), thousands of butterflies attracted by the scent of the Oriental Sweetgum trees cover the entire landscape. They are actually adult insects that follow the waterways and migrate here to reproduce (females leave for other suitable areas to lay their eggs in the early fall) due to the high humidity of the area.
At the time of visiting, the butterflies sleep on the shady sides of logs of trees or around the roots. The sight of the colony itself is magical but if the butterflies are awake they form a cloud, which is very impressive as it reveals the orange color of their feathers.
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Butterflies are resting here…The moths cannot eat during this final phase of their life cycle, so they rest here to conserve energy. Any loud noise would force them to fly away, thereby consuming valuable energy. Observe them as they “sleep” well-camouflaged in black and yellow; in flight their cherry-red overwings flash. The butterfly is brown-black with yellowish spots. This species of butterflies belongs to the family of moths and for this reason, the butterflies stay still covering the trunks of trees and rocks during the day, while they fly around at night.
The unpleasant truth is that the number of butterflies is increasingly reduced due to the impact of tourism on their natural environment. This is mainly due to the fact that a number of visitors whistle or clap their hands in order to see the butterflies fly. But the clapping and whistling produce ultrasonic sounds similar to those of bats. The butterflies feel threatened and try to escape frightened. Many of them die from shock or from depletion in their attempt to escape or even by crashing on rocks and trees. It is also important for them to stay still on the trees because they must keep their strength for their long journey in September, so try to avoid any hassling during your visit.