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.
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).
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.
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 (busses).