The Origin of FIN
It all started with a sort of joke, back in the 90s. As there were a lot of fireflies in Parque Biológico de Gaia, we often gathered with colleagues and friends to have dinner and then do a nocturnal tour to observe these bioluminescent insects.
With the success of these tours came the question: why not broaden this activity to the general public?
And so the “Firefly Nights” tradition came to being. Every year, during the month of June, thousands of people come to Parque Biológico de Gaia, some of them even repeating the experience from previous years.
But the interest for this group of animals which we knew so little about led us, in 2003, to conduct a survey with every City Hall in Portugal in order to gather data on the presence of fireflies in their respective areas. This allowed us to create a preliminary distribution map, without any kind of species distinction. Meeanwhile, we were visited by one of the biggest specialists on fireflies, Doctor Raphael De Cock, who encouraged us to organize an international seminar about Lampyridae and bioluminescence: the Firefly Network Meeting in 2007, which gathered about 40 scientists from all over the world and was the first international meeting about this subject.
Following that, there were other international seminars promoted by Queen Sirikit’s Botanical Garden in Thailand (2008), the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) and the Malaysian Nature Society, in Malaysia (2010) and by the University of Florida (2014).
With all this, knowledge about fireflies grew over time and now the opportunity to edit the first guide to the fireflies of Portugal has presented itself. It will surely be an extremely useful tool for all those who wish to know these conspicuous creatures with the ability to emit cold light and charm our nights, turning a regular forest into an enchanted forest.
Dr. Nuno Gomes Oliveira
Avintes Parque Biologico de Gaia
The philosophy behind organizing the first Firefly Meeting was to bring together people from around the world with an interest in fireflies (and other bioluminescent beetles) at a venue open to not only scientists, but educators, naturalists and artists. Artistic activities involving fireflies represent an essential link in promoting these insects and their conservation to a wider audience, especially those works combining art, science and education. By providing a venue for an international meeting, the organizers hoped to foster collaborative partnerships between those interested in many different aspects of fireflies.
Dr. Raphaël De Cock