Providence's iconic big blue bug gets a makeover
PROVIDENCE, R.I.—After 32 years of surveying Interstate 95 from his perch atop a pest control business, Rhode Island's big blue bug is getting a promotion -- and a makeover to go with it.
The towering termite named Nibbles Woodaway now sports a necktie, a sartorial step up befitting his new stature as corporate namesake. New England Pest Control owner Stephan Goldman said Monday he's changing his company's name to Big Blue Bug Solutions to honor the blue behemoth that long ago achieved iconic status in Rhode Island.
"Everyone knows the big blue bug. The bug is more famous than the name of my company," Goldman said after unveiling Nibbles' new neckwear, a spotted tie that nicely matches his compound eyes.
The name change comes as two of Goldman's sons prepare to take over the business that his father started in 1935. Nibbles arrived in 1980, after the company moved to its present location south of downtown Providence and was looking for a way to advertise.
At 4,000 pounds and easily visible from a busy stretch of interstate, Nibbles makes a convincing pitchman. The big bug made the list of quirky attractions compiled by "Roadside America" and scored a cameo in the movie "Dumb and Dumber." Couples have gotten engaged under the big bug. One woman had Nibbles tattooed on her leg.
"You ask anyone -- where is the blue bug? And they know where it is," said Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, who rode a lift to the company's roof on Monday to get a close look at Nibbles.
Nibbles' appearance changes through the year, boasting reindeer antlers at Christmas, Uncle Sam's red, white and blue top hat on July 4, or a baseball cap from the minor league Pawtucket
Nibbles was supposed to be purple, which Goldman said is the actual color of termites when viewed under a microscope. But the sun faded the paint to blue. Good thing, too: Big purple bug doesn't sound as good, he said.
Goldman initially worried that Rhode Island residents would call Nibbles an eyesore but said he's never received any complaints. He said one woman told him she made sure to include a ride past the enormous insect whenever taking her young children to the doctor or dentist.
"They wouldn't want to go, but she'd say `We can drive by the big blue bug on the way home,'" he said. "And that did it."