Every year, thousands of delicate, winged creatures migrate from the thickets and bushes of the Mediterranean, following the waterways to the humid Petaloudes Valley, more commonly known as the Valley of the Butterflies.
Toward the end of May, as the dry season approaches, the butterflies swarm over rocks and trees, resting their fragile atrophic peptic system until mating season begins.
A subspecies of the Jersey Tiger Moth unique to the island of Rhodes, Euplagia quadripunctaria rhodosensis is attracted to the valley by the scent given off by the Oriental Sweetgum trees that thrive in the area. Fluttering lightly, they cover every available surface. Waterfalls, shade and foliage make for the perfect romantic setting, and as soon as the intricate insects have rested, it’s time to begin their mating season.
While the valley is open and visitors encouraged, the impact of so much foot traffic is showing clear signs of strain on the population of the very attraction people come to see. Due to the nature of their biology — butterflies have no stomach, and their energy consists of reserves from their larval stage — constant disturbance from visitors clapping or whistling to encourage the bugs to fly off of their resting places, while quite visually pleasing, saps precious energy from the insects that cannot be replenished. If you go to witness this amazing migration, wear suitable shoes for hiking, please step lightly, and do not disturb the tiny residents.
Know Before You Go
The Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloudes) is located about 25 km (15.5 miles) from Rhodes City, on the western side of the island, about 5 km (3 miles) southeast of the village of Theologos.