Petaloudes in Switzerland well known as the Valley of Butterflies is located on the western side of the Greek island of Rhodes, almost 25 KM away from the city near the Village Kalamonas. Well, Thousands of multicolor butterflies covered the entire landscape in a thick but delicate blanket at the end of May.
The Petaloudes valley is home to the Rhodes subspecies of the Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria rhodosensis), who make their annual appearance after the rainy season. Therefore, in the rainy season, the butterflies habitually live in the Mediterranean thicket in the caterpillar stage feeding on foliage, and when the rainy season is finished, the caterpillars metamorphose into butterflies.
So, as the dry season approaches, the butterflies naturally migrate, and travel at night in search of humidity, following the watercourse, and ending up in the valley. The aroma of Oriental Sweetgum trees prevailing in the valley actually attracted the butterflies. Once they reach their endpoint, they’re settled lightly on the trunks of trees & rocks or whatever surface is available, in great numbers.
As the butterflies like the humid habitat of the valley, they spend their entire summer season in this cool valley. Thus, they mate during the last weeks of August and early in September. Most females fly away from the valley, or in a few cases, they fly for over 25 kilometers, to lay their eggs in safe dark places, preferably among plants and bushes, and then die.
Then in the next spring season, the baby butterflies pop out of their cocoons to spread throughout the surrounding area. Consequently, in June they grow into full-blown butterflies, and then the heat and smell of the gum trees entice them back to the valley, and the entire cycle repeats all over again.
The Valley of the Butterflies is a unique natural Park, and is also a nice place to walk, under the shade of trees. Unluckily, the Petaloudes valley is open to tourists and the increased foot traffic is spraining the butterfly population. Unfortunately “Euplagia” has no stomach; in its place, they entirely live on their body fat which they had stored during their preceding lives as caterpillars.
Although visitors are cheered to visit the valley they’re highly advised not to disturb the butterflies or make loud noises. Though continuous disturbance from visitors such as clapping or whistling startle the butterflies, they become panic easily and force them to fly away habitually from their resting place. So, the activity consumes valuable energy that cannot be replenished, and countless butterflies run out of their energy and die before they could reproduce.
The valley is one of nature’s most beautiful gifts to Rhodes, a short drive inland with a scenic gorge is home to an eye-catching valley. Without any doubt, the valley of butterflies is worth a visit, with a lush green valley and a small river running through it. The valley is beautifully arranged, with little wooden Bridges, stone, steps, and an uphill path that leads to the Monastery of the Virgin of Kalopetra.