Behind the Scenes, Gardens and Architecture, Getty Center, J. Paul Getty Museum

Ladybugs on the Lam!

5,000 ladybugs in the Getty Center's Central Garden

5,000 ladybugs visit the Getty and play in the straw

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:

Michael DeHart displays a sack of 5,000 ladybugs in the Getty Center's Central Garden

Grounds and Garden supervisor Michael DeHart with 5,000 ladybugs

After sprinkling water on a bush threatened by aphids, Michael placed the ladybugs in the soil and on the tips of the branches.

Michael DeHart releases ladybugs in the Getty Center's Central Garden bushes

Michael DeHart releases ladybugs in one of the Central Garden's bushes

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!).

5,000 ladybugs at Getty Center's Central Garden

Ladybugs take a sip of water

5,000 ladybugs at Getty Center's Central Garden

Ladybugs hanging out on the rocks

Ladybugs can live one to two years, so we hope these Coccinella magnifica continue to flourish among the Getty’s flora.

Michael DeHart with 5,000 ladybugs at Getty Center's Central Garden

Michael DeHart with the ladybugs after their release

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      Olympian Census #4: Aphrodite

      Get the stats on your favorite (and not-so-favorite) gods and goddesses on view at the Getty Center.

      Roman name: Venus

      Employment: Goddess of Love and Beauty

      Place of residence: Mount Olympus

      Parents: Born out of sea foam formed when Uranus’s castrated genitals were thrown into the ocean

      Marital status: Married to Hephaestus, the God of Blacksmiths, but had many lovers, both immortal and mortal

      Offspring: Aeneas, Cupid, Eros, Harmonia, Hermaphroditos, and more

      Symbol: Dove, swan, and roses

      Special talent: Being beautiful and sexy could never have been easier for this Greek goddess

      Highlights reel:

      • Zeus knew she was trouble when she walked in (Sorry, Taylor Swift) to Mount Olympus for the first time. So Zeus married Aphrodite to his son Hephaestus (Vulcan), forming the perfect “Beauty and the Beast” couple.
      • When Aphrodite and Persephone, the queen of the underworld, both fell in love with the beautiful mortal boy Adonis, Zeus gave Adonis the choice to live with one goddess for 1/3 of the year and the other for 2/3. Adonis chose to live with Aphrodite longer, only to die young.
      • Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful mortal woman, to Paris, a Trojan prince, to win the Golden Apple from him over Hera and Athena. She just conveniently forgot the fact that Helen was already married. Oops. Hello, Trojan War!

      Olympian Census is a 12-part series profiling gods in art at the Getty Center.

      08/03/15

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