Bob's Lonely in Butte  

tall50swm 63M
117 posts
3/7/2006 2:21 pm
Bob's Lonely in Butte

Matchmaking try falls short for Anaconda bank butterfly
By Vera Haffey
Montana Standard

ANACONDA -- Banker's hours seem to agree with Butterfly Bob, the showy swallowtail that emerged mysteriously out of season from a cocoon in a bank drive-through in January.

Bob has long outlived his two-week life expectancy, and tellers who care for him hope he'll hold on until they can find him a mate. Recently, they learned that a mail-order bride for the lovelorn butterfly won't be coming to Montana after all -- at least not without an agriculture permit that would allow the female to be shipped across state lines.

When plans for swallowtail nuptials fell through, teller Krystie Schiele searched the Internet to find other butterflies without immigration issues.

Last week, a dozen Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars arrived in the mail, along with a stylish net butterfly tower in which to live. In about 20 days, they'll hatch from cocoons and provide companionship for Bob, but the Painted Ladies won't make suitable butterfly wives. "They're not his type, not at all," said Schiele, a full-time bank employee who has become a part-time butterfly researcher.

Despite his broken butterfly heart, bachelor Bob still seems content dining on warmed sugar water in his nesting box or sunning himself in the drive-through window -- and waiting for that special someone.

Last week, a customer phoned to say she might have a solution to Bob's loneliness. The woman said she found a live butterfly in the draperies while sorting personal effects of her mother, who had just died.

"When she said she found a butterfly and her mom just passed away, I had tears," Schiele said. The woman brought the insect to the bank, where tellers named it Georgia, in honor of the customer's mother.

Bob and Georgia, who may be a moth, made their acquaintance in a butterfly net cage. Although they went nose to nose a time or two, the pair mostly kept a safe distance from each other.

The confines didn't agree with Bob, who's used to his freedom and seemed to sulk. "I don't think Bob's too happy," teller Joanne Bizjak said. "He seems like his nose is out of joint."

Shy Georgia likes the cage, Bizjak said, but she's less sociable than Bob, who climbs fingers like a staircase as he's passed from person to person to be admired. "She's not as friendly as Bob, I'll tell you that much," Schiele said. "When we let her go she flew into the light, and we had to get a ladder to get her down."

Because his wings have deteriorated, Bob spends most of his time flirting with customers from his perch in the drive-through window.

"He hasn't flown for three weeks now," said Schiele, who makes special trips to the bank on Sundays to keep him fed. "We really have to care for him."

"When he wants to eat, he just flaps his wings," then tellers move him to his nesting box where he drinks faux nectar from a dish and lounges on a terry cloth towel. He flaps again when he wants to go back to the window, and someone gives him a lift. The tiger swallowtail appeared out of nowhere in January, when it flew from beneath a desk at First National Bank's east-end drive-through.

Ever since, Butterfly Bob has delighted bank customers as he fluttered overhead or from shoulder to shoulder. Bank workers still vow to find a mate for Bob, they say.

"We at least got him some friends," Schiele said. "But I am bound and determined to get him a woman."

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