World's Largest Beetle
Colorado Springs, Colorado
The world's largest beetle -- a monster-sized West Indian Hercules Beetle -- was built in the mid-1950s as a roadside eye-grabber for the not-otherwise-visible May Museum of the Tropics. A real bug this size would inspire terror, but over the years this replica has been vandalized with graffiti and had its legs ripped off. It's now repaired and repainted, but close inspection reveals the wear and tear of time: skin cracking at the joints, legs held in place by wrapped wire. It stands behind a barbed wire-topped fence hung with signs that warn of 24/7 video surveillance.
The beetle achieved immortality when it was moved, along with the museum, to Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida. The moment was preserved in one of the best vintage postcards ever, with Florida bathing beauties (probably off-duty Weeki Wachee mermaids) languidly draped around the Big Bug, seemingly oblivious to its gam-crunching mandibles (although our knowledge of beetle anatomy, is at best, fuzzy).
The Florida museum closed in the early 1960s and the beetle was returned to its current spot. It has faithfully served as a directional sign ever since, no doubt waiting for a freak solar burst or radioactive cloud to bring it life so that it can wreak bug havoc on its next unlucky tormentor.