Hercules Beetle.

Herkimer: World's Largest Beetle

Field review by the editors.

Colorado Springs, Colorado

The world's largest beetle -- a 10-foot-high, 16-foot-long West Indian Hercules Beetle nicknamed "Herkimer" -- was built by John May in 1949 as a roadside eye-grabber for his May Museum of the Tropics.

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).

Hercules Beetle.

The Florida museum closed in 1963 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.

A real bug this size would inspire terror, but over the years this replica became vandalized with graffiti and had its legs ripped off. It was occasionally patched and repainted, but close inspection revealed the wear and tear of time: skin cracking at the joints, legs held in place by wrapped wire. It stood behind a fence hung with signs that warned of 24/7 video surveillance. Happily, R.J. Steer, John May's grandson, enlisted the help of fiberglass artist Mark Cline (builder of Buck Atom) to give the beetle a complete restoration. It was returned, good as new, to its original spot in May 2022.

Herkimer: World's Largest Beetle

Address:
710 Rock Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO
Directions:
Southwest edge of the city. I-25 exit 135. Drive west (toward mountains) for two miles. Turn left (south) onto Hwy 115 and drive five miles. Look for the water tower on the left; the big beetle will be on the right. Herkimer is at the corner of Hwy 115 and Rock Canyon Rd.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

May Natural History Museum of the TropicsMay Natural History Museum of the Tropics, Colorado Springs, CO - < 1 mi.
Grave of Hambone the MuleGrave of Hambone the Mule, Fort Carson, CO - 4 mi.
Starr Kempf's Metal SculpturesStarr Kempf's Metal Sculptures, Colorado Springs, CO - 6 mi.
In the region:
"In God We Trust" in Vietnam War Dead Pennies, Penrose, CO - 24 mi.

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