A Brief History of the International Firefly Symposium

By Raphaël De Cock and Marc Branham



The series of meetings that has become the International Firefly Symposium arose from a meeting hosted in 2007 by the Parque Biológico de Gaia, a center for environmental education and a nature reserve in Vilanova de Gaia, Portugal.  The 2007 meeting, officially called the International Firefly Meeting, later renamed the Firefly Network Meeting, was hosted and organized by Mr. Nuno Gomes Oliveira and Dr. Raphaël De Cock. The Parque Biológico de Gaia was a natural choice for the first meeting as the park director, Mr. Oliveira, is dedicated to the study and conservation of fireflies. Fireflies are found in the reserve and nightly firefly excursions remain a popular activity for more than 10,000 visitors yearly.

To learn more about the inspiration behind FIN, click here.


In 2008, the Queen Sirikit’s Botanic Garden Organization and the Committee for the Fireflies in Thailand Project organized the 1st International Firefly Symposium in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Mr. Bampot Napompeth served as the keynote speaker. The Firefly Network Meeting was held in conjunction with the symposium, and the meeting committee formally decided that it would be beneficial to hold a symposium every two years.


In 2010, the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and the Malaysian Nature Society organized the 2nd International Firefly Symposium in Subang, Selangor, Malaysia. Drs. Nobuyoshi Ohba and Lesley Ballantyne served as keynote speakers. An additional activity associated with but held prior to this meeting was a training course on the Identification and Taxonomy of South East Asian Fireflies, taught by Drs. Lesley Ballantyne and Ming-Luen Jeng (July 27-31, 2010). The Network Meeting was held on the last day of the symposium. At the 2010 symposium, it was formally decided that in order to provide more time for planning future symposia as well as for conducting firefly projects between meetings, symposia would be held every three years. At the 2010 meeting, the University of Florida was elected as the venue for the International Firefly Symposium in 2013.


Due to several unforeseen scheduling issues, the meeting originally scheduled for 2013 was moved to 2014. In August of 2014, the University of Florida hosted the 2014 International Firefly Symposium in Gainesville, Florida. In the interest of simplicity, the numbering system for the symposium was dropped from the title and replaced with the year the meeting will be held. The University of Florida has been a center for firefly research for over 45 years, due to the influential career of Dr. James E. Lloyd, professor emeritus. Dr. Lloyd served as the keynote speaker at the 2014 meeting. At the end of the 2014 meeting, Taiwan was elected as the venue for the 2017 International Firefly Symposium.

The 2017 International Firefly Symposium was held in Taipei, Taiwan on April 24-26, with 188 registered attendees. During the FIN General Meeting at the end of the conference, members decided to establish a FIN Steering Committee, and begin work on a website, logo, official World Firefly Day, and an IUCN Firefly Specialist Group. The Parque Biológico de Gaia in Portugal offered to once again host the 2020 International Firefly Symposium, and this location was later confirmed via online vote.