VALLEY OF BUTTERFLIES
In the western side of the island of Rhodes, approximately five kilometers southeast of the village of Theologos (or Tholos), lies the Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloudes). This is one of the most attractive destinations on the island. During August, thousands of butterflies of the genus Panaxia (species Quadripunctaria Poda) overwhelm the valley in order to reproduce. During the rainy period, the Butterflies 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 of highest humidity is greatest, always following the «waterways», as the dry period progresses, they finally arrive at the valley.
Unfortunately, over the last few years the population of the Panaxia 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).