Science, Art & Entomology

The Love Motel for Insects: Washington DC Variation

by Brandon Ballengée

Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Summer 2012


Inspired by the shape of dragonfly wings, this sculpture will utilize ultra-violet lights to attract insects and become a public platform for varied local entomology/ ecology themed programs. The primary objective will be to create opportunities for the public to experience a side of their local environment that many have probably never focused on— insect life!


The sculpture itself will glow beginning at dusk attracting numerous nocturnal arthropods. During the day, insects will gather around the artwork attracted by native flowers planted at the sculpture’s base. Related signage will educate the public about the installation, the species of native plants and the ecological importance of insects. Varied public programs (to be discussed) will celebrate arthropod biodiversity and inspire participants to gain a better overall understanding of their local ecology.


This series began in the tropical rainforests of Central America more than a decade ago. Since, the sculptures have appeared on boats in Venice, bogs in Ireland, isolated moors in Scotland, bustling Delhi shopping malls, Mexican deserts, New Haven inner-city bus stops, London roof tops, Korean mountain-sides, Louisiana Bayous and others. At each location community events occur: bioart workshops; eco-action field-trips; trans-species picnics; bug parties; enviro-graffiti jams, citizen science investigations and even insect themed musical events.

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