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Canadian Towns Challenge U. S.

You wouldn't think they would want to boast about it, but the United States and Canada both claim they have the world's largest mosquitoes and grasshoppers.

The tiny towns of Clute, Texas and Komarno, Manitoba are equally proud of their huge mosquito statues. Clute even holds a Great Texas Mosquito Festival.  About 1600 miles to the north, Komarno displays a huge steel weathervane shaped like a monster mosquito, with a wingspan measuring 15ft (4.6 metres). The name Komarno is said to be Ukrainian for Mosquito.

Somewhere between the rival towns, Carlisle, Massachusetts has a weekly newspaper called The Mosquito. Features editor Marilyn Harte says "When the Mosquito was founded in 1972, Carlisle was notorious for its wetlands and its large population of fierce mosquitoes. The town's human population of about 2,500, had nevertheless voted down joining a mosquito control district that would have conducted widespread spraying.  Protecting groundwater and wildlife was more important than eradicating pesky mosquitoes."

[Last month (August 2002), health officials in the U.S. and Canada warned residents of both countries to protect themselves against mosquitoes and watch for dead birds as the threat of the West Nile virus grows]

Now for the Giant Grasshoppers. Regent, North Dakota, not far from the Canadian border, has a  metallic grasshopper 40ft. tall and 50ft. long, flanked by several smaller grasshoppers 12ft tall to 24ft. in length. It's one of a series of huge metal sculptures flanking the Enchanted Highway, a 32-mile stretch of paved county highway between Regent and Gladstone.

"Local artisans plan to create 10 giant sculptures, one every few miles, paired with picnic areas and playground equipment," says a Regent website. "Metal sculptor and retired school teacher Gary Greff started the work in 1992. There's a depiction of Teddy Roosevelt riding a bucking horse ... and a Tin Family, which includes a propeller-headed boy holding a sucker...

"Six more sculptures are planned, including a flock of geese, two deer, a giant fish leaping from a scrap metal pond, and a 70ft. tall buffalo."

A Canadian website shows an imposing statue of a huge grasshopper in Wilkie, Saskatchewan, which is claimed to be The World's Largest Grasshopper. Under the heading Big Things In Saskatchewan, it says the wooden statue, made of cedar, was built in 1993. It's 18ft (5.5 metres) long, with a width of  6ft. (1.8 metres) and weighs 4,000 pounds.

"It is an enlarged model of the wooden grasshopper manufactured locally for which its creator is well known internationally," says the website. "The Monument was designed to have a 'talking' capability which consisted of a phone system connected so that messages could be transmitted through its mouth. This feature is no longer available."

Ironically,  Rhode Island, the smallest State in the U.S, claims to have The World's Largest Bug. It's a monstrous blue termite, perched on the roof of New England Pest Control in Providence.  Named Nibbles Woodaway in a local radio contest, it's  58 feet long, 928 times the size of a real termite.

New England Pest Control uses Nibbles as its logo. The company dresses the bug for holidays, giving him an Uncle Sam hat for July 4, a witch's hat and broom for Halloween, and a red blinking nose and antlers for Christmas.

In a story posted last month, we told how the town of Enterprise, Alabama, is proud of its Boll Weevil Monument, "the world's only monument honoring a pest." Boll weevils destroyed the farmers' cotton plants, forcing them to grow peanuts and other crops, which brought them greater prosperity.

Hey, you Enterprisers (or should that be Entrepreneurs?), don't you classify mosquitoes, grasshoppers and termites as pests?

As described by Shelley Brigman, "the monument consists of a sculpture of a lady wearing a flowing white gown, holding high above her head a black boll weevil. The pair stand 13-and-a-half feet above street level and are surrounded by a concrete basin from which flows a lighted fountain.

"Both the lady and her bug have gone through a few trials and tribulations over the years which have included theft and vandalism, but they were always restored and today remain as a source of recognition and pride for the city of Enterprise."

Hidalgo, Texas (pop. 5563) on the banks of the Rio Grande, bordering Mexico, calls itself The Killer Bee Capital of the World. "Killer Bees have been involved in reported cases which left more than 700 people dead (though none in the U.S.) since their northward migration from Brazil that began in the 1950s" says one website.

"The first of the aggressive insects - called Africanized honeybees--were found in the United States on Oct. 15, 1990 just outside the City of Hidalgo. After that, Hidalgo became the home of 'The World's Largest Killer Bee', a statue built to commemorate the first colony of [the bees] discovered in the city.

"The statue measures 20 ft long and is l0ft high and has attracted national attention. It has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, American Airlines Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications and national TV shows. Tourists come hundreds of miles each year to take their picture with the 'Killer Bee.'"

The World's Largest Caterpillar is the biggest of a series of dome-shaped buildings along I-35 in Italy, Texas. "Its mouth appears to be a garage door and cowboy boots are painted on to give it that Texas flair," says a Dallas website.

Around the world, many other insects are claimed as the World's Largest, with statues erected in their honor. Click on these sites to see just a few of them:

WORLD'S LARGEST BEE (Falher, Alberta, Canada)  

BOLL WEEVIL MONUMENT, (Enterprise, Alabama)

Digital City

WILKIE, Saskatchewan
REGENT, North Dakota
Dakota West Adventures
Roadside America

CLUTE, Texas
KOMARNO, Manitoba

WORLD'S LARGEST SANDFLY (Greymouth, New Zealand)

WORLD'S LARGEST TERMITE (Providence, Rhode Island)



Copyright 2002

Eric Shackle

Story first posted September 2002

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