Valley of the Butterflies

Μετάφραση Greek Version

Valley of the Butterflies

The Valley of Butterflies is a natural reserve in the northern part of Rhodes. It has been one of the most famous attractions on the island for decades and is worth a visit. The valley is not only valuable in terms of aesthetics but it is also the only natural forest of Europe’s Liquidambar orientalis or Oriental Sweetgum trees. This is a species of tree that excretes an aromatic raisin, which is said to attracts the butterflies. Butterflies that live in this valley belong to the species tiger moth Panaxia Quadripunctaria and are 18 to 23 millimeters long and the span of the wings is 55 to 60 mm.

The butterflies live in the valley during the summer, mate and fly away in September to lay some 150 eggs in safe dark places, preferably among bushes and the plants and then die. In April these eggs produce the small larva which are transformed into chrysalis in May and achieve their final form at the beginning of June. When it turns hot, they move towards the wetter areas and travelling by night, reach the valley where they will stay until September.

During the summer, visitors can observe a unique phenomenon that made the valley famous. Millions of moths gathered on the trees, cover entire tree trunks and leaves, and rest for the night. The majority are clinging to trees so blend in with the bark but when they fly you see their lovely red wings. They sleep during the day and loose a vast amount of energy when alarmed and forced to fly. It is therefore, crucial for the survival of the species, visitors not to make any kind of noise, and disturb the butterflies. Unfortunately, tiger moth population has declined sharply in recent years due to site traffic.

The 1 km route that composes the valley is beautifully organized with wooden bridges over pools and fails of water, paved footpaths and benches to enjoy the scenery. The Zitia trees provide shade, allowing you to enjoy the splendid landscape with your loved ones. This luxuriant ravine with abundant running water attracts thousands of tourists each summer. The area is ideal for walks and there are several paths you can follow.

The park is located some 23 km southeast from Rhodes Town and belongs to a Natura 2000 protected zone together with Seven Springs and Mt Profitis Ilias. The valley was found in the 1930s by Italians and first studies were conducted by German entomologist Reinhard Eiger. There are three entry points with parking areas. The main entrance, a second entrance next to the Museum of Natural History and a third one next to the Monastery of Panagia Kalopetra.