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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      "Hey Dude!"

      That doesn’t seem like too far off for a cry of a street vendor from the series called “Cries of Paris.

      However, this is an idealized depiction of a peasant who has sturdy clogs, a short jacket, and apron. Such vision sold higher numbers of these small sculptures to wealthy patrons.

      Figure of a Street Vendor, about 1755 - 1760, Mennecy Porcelain Manufactory. J. Paul Getty Museum.

      10/02/14

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