Guide books seem to differ as to whether the 'butterflies' are actually Jersey tiger moths (Panaxia quadripunctaria) or Quadrina moths (Callimorpha quadripunctaria) that come to this valley and to a similar one on Paros island to spend the final phase of their lives attracted to the oriental sweetgum trees here, also called 'storax' trees, which exude a vanilla scented resin used in making frankincense. July to mid-September is the peak season for the moths, which cover the tree trunks, eat nothing, merely conserving energy before mating, after which they die of starvation. The numbers of these rare moths have declined in recent years due to the clapping of tourists who want to see them fly, which exposes their red backs, but which also weakens them, so observe them quietly and respectfully should you visit.
The valley is beautiful in its own right, with or without plentiful moths. There is a taverna near the parking area and a café next to a pond. There's also a nice trail through the valley with wooden bridges that cross back and forth over the stream. Petaloudhes is the main publicized tourist attraction in Rhodes interior. The valley trail leads to the monastery of Panaghis Kalopetra built in 1782 by Alexander Ypsilantis, grandfather of two brothers who wanted to be kings at the beginning of the Greek War of Independence. The spot has picnic tables and nice views. Another trail leads to the Monastery of Aghios Soulas off of the road that leads down to Soroni. There is a big festival here on 30 July with donkey races and folk dancing-a festival described in the Lawrence Durrell book 'Reflections on a Marine Venus'.
Psinthos named for its spring, is a pleasant village with plane trees and several nice tavernas. It is also the site of the defeat of the Turks by the Italians in 1912.
Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elijah) is the most thickly forested peak on Rhodes, and is the island's third highest (at 798 meters/2617feet). You can walk from Psinthos to Eleoussa (14 km), the latter in thick forest at the far east end of the mountain's ridge. On the southeast slopes are the villages of Platania and Apollona. The latter has domed outside ovens which are still used. Outside of Eleoussa is the Byzantine church of Aghios Nikolaos Foundoukli (St. Nicholas of the Hazelnuts) with 13th to 15th century frescoes, with a spot next to it much favored for picnics by locals, with views out over lovely agricultural land. The monastery of Profitis Ilias has an annual festival. Some Italian built hotels near it are now used as a children's camp. There are some nice walks on the mountain. Salakos is a pleasant village from which to hike uphill, with a nice platia, an Italian fountain and some kafeneia. See more pictures of Rhodes I | Photos of Rhodes II | Rhodes III