Artist Hirokazu Kosaka’s much anticipated presentation of “Kalpa” on January 20 at the Getty Center was an experimental performance spectacular, featuring hundreds of spools of thread being pulled in the mouths of Butoh dancers, and a shining spotlight that illuminated their path down the Tram Arrival Plaza. Originally, the performance was also supposed to include the release of thousands of ladybugs into the air, but Kosaka made the last-minute artistic decision not to release them.
This left us with a question: where to take 5,000 of the black-spotted critters?
The answer? To the Getty’s Central Garden, of course!
Our grounds and garden supervisor, Michael DeHart, was asked to take in the orphaned insects and use them as pest control in the Central Garden.
“Ladybugs eat aphids, which are a threat to many of the plants in the garden,” Michael told me. “Since we avoid using pesticides, we use ladybugs every year to ensure that aphids don’t overrun our beautiful foliage.”
I followed Michael early one sunny morning as he removed the ladybugs from a muslin sack and released them into the garden. Typically, ladybugs are sold by the “quart” to the public, and by the “gallon” (5,000 bugs) wholesale. This is what a gallon looks like:
After sprinkling water on a bush threatened by aphids, Michael placed the ladybugs in the soil and on the tips of the branches.
He also placed the ladybugs near the Central Garden’s stream, to give them a nice drink (don’t worry, they can float on the water!).
Ladybugs can live one to two years, so we hope these Coccinella magnifica continue to flourish among the Getty’s flora.