Image © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes), Rhodes

On the western side of the island of Rhodes, approximately five kilometers south east from the village of Theologos (or Tholos), there lies the Valley of the Butterflies - also known as Butterfly Valley (Petaloudes in Greek). This is one of the most attractive destinations on the island.

The Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloudes) is another one of the landmarks of the island: the "Zitia" tree, which is found in a few parts of the Mediterranean, hosts millions of butterflies that peacefully hang in the shadowy wet paths it creates with the brook, which occasionally is transformed to lakes and small waterfalls.

During August, thousands of butterflies of the genus Panaxia (species Quadripunctaria Poda) swarm into the butterfly valley in order to reproduce. During the rainy period, the butterflies, still in the caterpillar stage, remain in the Mediterranean thicket (arbutus, myrtle and rush) feeding on the foliage.

As the end of the wet season approaches, towards the end of May, the final stage is concluded and the butterfly in all her perfection makes her appearance in the form recognizable to us all. They move constantly towards areas with high humidity, always following the "water ways", and as the dry period progresses, they finally arrive at the valley.


Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

The butterflies like it quiet!

Unfortunately, over the last few years the population of the Panaxia butterfly has been constantly in decline, due to several factors, one of the most important being the disturbance by visitors. The butterfly has an atrophic peptic system, meaning has no stomach. From May until the mating period (for the males), and until the egg lying period (for the females) they do not eat. They survive from the energy stored from their previous lives as caterpillars.

The disturbance of visitors is forcing the butterflies to fly all day, consuming valuable energy. Visitors should not be denied the enjoyment of viewing the butterflies at rest, but it is prohibited to disturb them in any way (hand clapping, whistling etc).

Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

Morphology and Developmental Stages of the Butterfly

There are four stages of development for the Butterfly: egg, pre-nymph (caterpillar or larva), nymph (pupa or chrysalis) and final and perfect stage. The life cycle is one year.

The butterfly Egg

Towards the end of September, the female butterfly lays more than one hundred eggs, white in colour, placed side by side like a mattress, or individually. The eggs are tough, resilient and slippery which offers them a great deal of protection against predators. As the cycle is only one year the butterfly dies a few days after the egg laying, a fact which places great biological importance on the egg for the existence and perpetuity of the species.

The butterfly Pre-nymph

The caterpillar has a worm-like appearance and emerges approximately one month after the eggs have been laid, around the end of October, Initially it is only one millimetre in length but it continuously grows. Its skin colour is yellow and white in the beginning, gradually darkening later on.

The increase in body size causes the shedding of the old skin and the appearance of a new one. This occurs six times. The pre-nymph stage lasts through the winter and spring, it's primal function being food consumption. Large amounts of plant material are consumed in order to made into larva tissue.

The butterfly as Nymph

This is the immobility stage, where the insect remains mummified within the cocoon, surrounded by a shroud. This takes place under stones, leaves or even a few centimetres under ground, usually beginning in the last two weeks of May. The cocoon is almost transparent with a brown tinge.

This stage lasts for a month. During this time, all the necessary re-organization of tissue takes place and as result the adult appears with the simultaneous shedding of the cocoon in the first few days of June. In the resting position, the Panaxia as an isosceles triangle with a head and wings which are held tightly against the body.

The wings have a brownish black colour with irregular yellowish white stripes, colours which were developed to blend into the surrounding tree trunks and rocks making it difficult for a predator to distinguish them. During flight, they reveal two bright red rear wings decorated with four black spots on each. Our "tree trunk" now appears bulky, hairy and bright pink! The antennae are long and pointed.

As in any large population of a species, for example humans, we don't all have exactly the same physical characteristics. The same applies to butterflies. The basic colours already described can vary from grey-brown to black for front wings and from yellowish red to deep red for the rear ones.

Panaxia feeds only during the pre-nymph stage. Experiments have shown that the adult can survive throughout the entire summer on water alone. It uses it's fat deposits to cover its energy needs.

Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

The main natural enemies of Panaxia are frogs, lizards, crabs and bats. The butterflies react strongly to ultrasounds, indicating that they sense the ultra sounds emitted by bats. Panaxias' reaction to whistling and hand-clapping is immediate. This reaction consists of flying away from the danger area or evasive flight manoeuvres such as flying with wings only half open or irregularly flapping the wings.

When the cause for panic is over, Panaxia gathers its wings, calms down and settles once again into a sleeping position. It is important to understand that this behavior forces the butterfly to use energy it can not replace, so it is prohibited to disturb the butterflies in such ways.

Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

The following general rules apply while exploring the Valley of Butterflies

  • It is not allowed to leave the footpaths when exploring, in order to avoid trampling rare plants
  • Avoid any kind of noise that could disturb the Butterflies, as well as talking loudly
  • Clapping hands is strictly forbidden
  • No smoking and polluting the environment with any sort of trash
  • It is important to respect the indications of the signs and the guards

Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com

Ticket prices and opening hours

Opening hours:
The opening hours for the valley of butterflies are

From June 6th to September 9th: Monday through Sunday from 08:00 to 18:00

From May 1st to June 9th & September 11 to October 30th: Monday through Sunday from 08:30 - 16:30

Ticket prices:
01/06 - 14/09: Adults 5€
and Free for children under the age of 12

15/09 - 31/05: Adults 3€
and Free for children under the age of 12


Museum of Natural History

The Natural History Museum of Rhodes operates at the entrance of the butterfly valley. Among the exhibits are endemic and rare species of the broader area of the Valley, which are displayed in cases representing the conditions of the natural environment.

Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes) © Rhodes Guide / RhodesGuide.com


How to reach the Valley of Butterflies

The valley is located about 26 km away from the town of Rhodes, and 6 km from the western coast, in the northern part of the island. Starting from Rhodes city you will find the valley between the villages Paradisi and Theologos along a small road that heads inland. There is also public transportation available by bus.

For more information please visit the official website


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Butterfly Valley (Valley of Butterflies, Petaloudes) reviews & comments

click here to add your review!

There is free parking, and it was a hike through a pleasantly shady valley where you can watch thousands of butterflies sitting on the trees. All the bridges and pathways seemed very safe to me and are new. We have not hiked the valley completely because it was already full of visitors again, and keeping distance in some places was impossible. so I recommend to bring a mask!

Commented by Markus September 22, 2021

About 3.5 kilometers long route through the valley of the butterflies.
In itself very recommendable but note that it is only uphill, and in the summer heat it can be quite exhausting. But it is worth it. There are also many different lizards to see.

Commented by Joanna September 15, 2021

Despite the warm weather, our experience was very pleasant and worthwhile. The many small animals, from crabs to countless butterflies are definitely worth a trip. Recommended.

Commented by Doris B. September 02, 2021

Valley of the butterflies special was there in 1970 with my mom & dad at time my dad smoked cigarettes when he lit one the butterflies would cover him mom and dad were celebrating 40 years anniversary and happy l could be there with them god bless them.

Commented by Demltrlous drakos April 02, 2020

Delightful cool tricky paths walk with care, just one type but once you have your eye in you will see many many glorious natural place.

Commented by Mary Barnes September 24, 2019

Back in 1966 I spent my honeymoon on Rhodes. There were many great places to visit and Valley of Butterflies is one of the most memorable. An absolutely stunning visit with nature and those beautiful butterflies remain vivid after all these years. A must see if anywhere near the amazing island.

Commented by Connie May 03, 2014

Went there in 1972. I can still remember how beautiful the valley was. I hope to go back one day...

Commented by Richard irons July 24, 2013

I VISITED THE ISLAND OF RHODES MANY YEARS AGO.
THE VISIT TO THE VALLEY OF THE BUTTERFLIES
WAS FANTASTIC. THE VARIOUS COLORS OF THE BUTTERFLIES LOOKED LIKE COLORED FLOWERS. A SHORT
TRIP TO TURKEY FROM RHODES WAS VERY INTERESTING

Commented by ADELLE DUNBERG July 31, 2012

A brilliant place to go and see. Especially in the high season as you not only get to see the amazing wildlife (there is much more there than just the butterflies!) It is so cool down there in the shade! It's just a shame we lost our transport for an hour after we emerged at the far end and got a litte lost!!!!!

Commented by John G June 02, 2010

I'm not saying this because I'm Greek, but Valley of the Butterflies is the perfect place to take great pictures. I took 60 pictures there. The trees, the butterflies, the bridges... It's a magical place!

Commented by No need for one August 18, 2009

Valley of the Butterflies is a must. We saw tree frogs and tree crabs. it was unbelieveable. even a turtle. Its so nice dont miss it.

Commented by Robson March 25, 2007

Fantastic, you must go there it is so beautiful, I recommend it.

Commented by maya September 04, 2006

Beautiful place. We went there in August and saw the butterflies - its almost like a dream.

Commented by Mark February 09, 2004

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