Butterflies

The valley in which you will find yourself has always been known as “Petaloudes” , the Greek word for butterflies. This is indeed a true oasis as water comes into the valley from a natural spring all the year around. This continuous flow of water has resulted in an overgrowth of vegetation that includes cypress trees which are at least 500 hundred years old, ancient olive trees, fig trees and pine trees.

A great variety of fruit trees, such as apricots, pears, plums, peaches, oranges, tangerines and others are also a part of the reserve. An impressive act of nature though is that, throughout the valley ivy has grown, surrounding every tree. It has taken over and it seems its Panaxia’s favourite place to rest.

The butterflies you will find in our reserve belong to one species only.

Their main colour is black with white-yellowish stripes but while flying their second pair of vivid red wings is disclosed, rendering it the dominant colour.

As far as the butterflies’ development is concerned, “Panaxia” passes through four clear stages.

egg

caterpillar

chrysalis

butterfly

It is only when Panaxia is fully grown that it finds its way to the reserve.
Why? Because the species need to be in a cool environment and close to water for their mating season. It is interesting to note that “Panaxia” goes higher into the trees when it is cooler there, and places itself as close to water as it can.
How do they get here? It is thought by a sense of smell, an olfactory sense which guides them to the perfect environment. They come at night, slowly , starting in the end of May, and then the numbers are dramatically escalating.
It is a beautiful and rare to see a full gathering of a species free in their natural habitat.

Visitors frequently ask what the butterfly eats. The surprising answer is nothing. Panaxia eats only at the caterpillar stage of its development. Storing all the energy they need for their mating activity.

This is why it is so important to not to disturb the butterfly while it rests in the daytime. Making the species fly results in using up the energy needed to complete their mission, meaning, laying their eggs. So please be very quiet as you wander around the valley.

About mid September there is generally a change in the weather, a foretaste of autumn. This is the signal for “Panaxia” to leave. They leave in order to lay their eggs, the female will lay about a hundred.

What about predators? Well, the bats are centainly predators, so are the lizards and the wasps that attack seeking out the weekest “panaxia” and killing them.

The harsh reality though, is that the biggest threat to the butterflies is us.

Visitors can not understand the harm they can do by making noises or by disturbing them in order to catch them fly. We pose the biggest threat to this natural migration.

So we would like to ask, on your visit to this lovely place, to be careful and to look after the environment…our environment, which like so many others all over the world is in grave danger of extiction.

So please:

Don’t make noise
Don’t shake the branches
Do not disturb Panaxia in any way
Peace and quiet is necessary for the survival of species

Thank you

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