A Big Blue Bug’s Life

How our favorite termite spent the last forty-three years as a Rhode Island icon.

Courtesy of Big Blue Bug Solutions

Big Beginnings: The 4,000-pound, nine-foot-tall Nibbles Woodaway is an eastern subterranean termite that’s loomed over the Route I-95 Thurbers Avenue curve since 1980 (he’s over the hill at forty-three!). Burrowing into our archives, we learned the steel-and-fiberglass insect was originally painted purple (the color of a live termite swarmer under a microscope), but the paint job faded to blue. As the new hue stuck as part of its moniker, the owners repainted it blue ever since, eventually rebranding from New England Pest Control to Big Blue Bug Solutions in 2012. 

Starring Roles: Geraldine Perry of Tiverton coined the “Nibbles Woodaway” nickname as part of a public contest held in 1990. That same year, WPRO’s Geoff Charles conducted his afternoon drive-time talk show on top of the building next to Nibbles. Motorists reportedly bumped into each other on the highway while trying to catch a glimpse of Charles and his entourage on the roof, which happened to include a scantily clad exotic dancer. The clever insect also appeared in driving scenes in Dumb and Dumber (1994) and Dumb and Dumber To (2014), and even had a song written about him.

Costume Changes: In addition to donning a red nose, Christmas lights and antlers come the holiday season, the Big Blue Bug inherited a spotted red necktie a decade ago, sunglasses and an Awful Awful in summer and an Uncle Sam hat and white beard for the Fourth of July. It also sported a medical mask in the dark days of COVID-19. The Rhode Island icon even had an Incredible Hulk makeover ahead of the 2021 Rhode Island Comic-Con and supported the PawSox in the past by wearing a ball cap. Can we slip him a copy of Rhode Island Monthly, hmm? bigbluebug.com