Placed at a broad ecotone between five distinct ecosystems, and blessed with a long flight season, lots of rainfall, and a mild climate, Southeast Texas has always had an abundance of butterflies. However, even with the nation’s fourth largest city situated squarely in its midst, a solid contingent of enthusiastic naturalists that regularly conducted butterfly counts, and two world-class butterfly houses regularly drawing throngs, the sad fact remained that at the dawn of the new millennium, there was not a single local club that was committed solely to the enjoyment and conservation of living butterflies.
So it was in 2002, while on a break from the heat at the Katy Prairie Butterfly Count, that David Henderson put forth the idea of forming a local NABA chapter to P.D. Hulce and Kelly Walker. A few days later, as a summer storm drove participants of the Houston Butterfly Count into Quizno’s in the Heights, this idea took a dramatic step forward, thanks to Nancy Greig’s presence. Nancy offered the Houston Museum of Natural Science as a meeting place. Suddenly, everything seemed to fall into place. So it was that on October 1, 2002, a sizable contingent of butterfly enthusiasts of all persuasions came together in the HMNS downstairs conference room, and quickly decided to become an official chapter of the North American Butterfly Association. The only real sticking point – what to call ourselves? In a beautiful example of teamwork, Butterfly Enthusiasts of Southeast Texas – BEST- was arrived at, and unanimously approved.
Since then, the club has grown in numbers, as well as in scope. BEST has within its midst both advanced amateurs and enthusiastic novices. A few lepidopterists have come into the group, and many birders. Lots of gardeners and photographers round it out. Every bit as diverse as our group’s interests are BEST’s activities, ranging from rigorous scientific data collection to pure enjoyment of nature. No fewer than 18 counts in the area are directly sponsored by BEST. We conduct field trips all over the region on a monthly basis during the flight season, and also several excursions further afield (Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, and the Lower Rio Grande Valley have been past destinations; Missouri and Massachusetts are on for this year.) In an area that continues to grow, we work with other groups to make habitat for butterflies, particularly within highly developed, urban areas. We work to educate people about butterfly gardening and identification. Mainly, though, we just have A LOT of FUN being outside and enjoying some of the most incredible creatures on the planet. Come join us!