A real-life natural paradise | Daily News

A real-life natural paradise

The Greek island of Rhodes is home to a special biome called Petaloudes Valley, or the Valley of Butterflies, after the millions of endemic moths that cover almost every surface during the summer months.

Located on the western side of Rhodes Island, about 10 kilometers from 10 km from the airport and 25 km from Rhodes City, Petaloudes Valley hosts the only natural forest of Oriental Sweetgum trees (Liquidambar orientalis) in Europe. It’s the scent given off by these trees that attracts an endemic subspecies of Jersey Tiger moths called Euplagia quadripunctaria rhodosensis; huge numbers of moths congregate in this small valley, covering almost every visible surface almost as a living blanket.

Every year, the spectacular migration of the Jersey Tiger moth to Petaloudes Valley begins around the end of May, after the rainy season, as the Jersey Tiger moths emerge from their caterpillar form. Attracted by the aroma of Oriental Sweetgum trees, they make their way along the island’s waterways, traveling dozens of kilometers towards the valley they helped name (petaloudes means ‘butterflies’ in Greek).

Once they reach their destination, the swarms of butterflies begin to cover everything, from the lush foliage to rocks of all shapes and sizes. They prefer to sleep on the shady sides of trees or around the roots, and tourists are advised to admire the surreal views in silence, as loud noises can disturb the butterflies.

Keeping quiet is more than a simple curtesy to the Jersey Tiger moth, as startling the tiny fliers and forcing them to fly more than they need to is a sure way to render the entire subspecies extinct. That’s because the butterflies don’t have stomachs, which renders them unable to feed. They survive on the fat deposits they store during their caterpillar stage, so they need to save up their energy. Oddity Central