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Beetle juice

click to enlarge BRUCE ELLIOTT

It was only a matter of time until the makeover craze spread to our local gargantuan beetle statue. This winter, local artist David Larcom gave the Dynastes Hercules beetle statue along Highway 115 nine miles south of the Springs a facelift.

"It looked all gray and terrible," said Larcom. Last fall, the artist approached John May, owner of the big beetle that marks the entrance to his museum of tropical insects, and offered to repair the bug for free. May offered to pay his expenses and Larcom called it a deal.

Upon further inspection, Larcom discovered the beetle's shell riddled with bullet holes. "He designed it to be hurricane proof," Larcom said of May, who built the statue in Florida before moving to El Paso County. "It deals great with the wind, but then there's the yahoos of Colorado."

Those yahoos, Larcom said, have used the beetle over the years as a rifle range. "People would sit up there and shoot the legs off. Probably Army, there's machine gun fire on it." Not only that, area college kids on several occasions have made off with the legs.

So, in addition to giving the bug a new coat of paint, Larcom rebuilt the legs over thick metal rods. "The legs won't be so easy to take anymore," he said.

A Salida native, Larcom brought his son Louis along for some of the restoration work. He hopes that caring for the beetle will become a family tradition. "As long as my great-great-grandson goes and fixes it," he said, "it'll last 200 years."

-- Dan Wilcock

Photo by Bruce Elliott

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