Petaloudes. Valley of the Butterflies. Greece
In the western part of the Greek island of Rhodes, about 30 km from the capital, there is a unique nature reserve known as the Valley of the Butterflies or Petaloudes. The Valley is home to thousands of subspecies of the butterflies Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria rhodosensis). After the rainy season, the whole valley is a living carpet of these beautiful insects. Although, essentially this is a narrow park, stretching up to the hill along the gorge.
Eucalyptus aroma attracts millions of butterflies into the valley. As caterpillars, they live in the woods and at the end of the rainy season turn into butterflies. They migrate from the forests in search of wet places. Having found their refuge in the valley of Petaloudes, Euplagia quadripunctaria rhodosensis cover the trunks and leaves of trees, shrubs and grass with a thick layer. Here they spend all summer.
End of August – beginning of September is time for pairing. After that, most of the females fly away from the valley to lay their eggs among the shrubs and plants of the rainforest. Sometimes they fly more than 25 km in search of a safe place. In spring, youngs hatch from the cocoons and new butterflies fly back out of the woods in search of the favorable habitat. The smell of eucalyptus and high temperature attracts them to the valley again and the natural cycle repeats.
The valley is open to visitors and you can actually see this incredible spectacle. However, this is the main disadvantage for the butterflies. And the increased inflow of tourists threatens the population of these creatures. These butterflies live at the expense a fatty layer accumulated by the caterpillars, as these moths don’t have stomach. Noise from the visitors forces the butterflies often fly away from their resting places. The energy that they spend on it is irreparable. Many butterflies exhaust their energy too fast and die before the process of procreation. The visitors are allowed to visit the valley, but it is recommended not to disturb the butterflies and not to make loud noise.
In some places of the valley you can find small waterfalls, rocky cliffs and some other inhabitants of the reserve except butterflies: crabs, lizards and rare birds. Local lakes and rivers provide sufficient moisture and coolness. The air of the valley is saturated with aromas of vanilla. Therefore, not only butterflies love this place, but the tourists will appreciate the local climate.