Public Art Installation, Love Motel for Insects in Utah this July

Love Motel for Insects North Carolina.

July 12, 2018

Westminster’s Great Salt Lake Institute brings interactive exhibit to Utah

Art, insects and people meet at the “Love Motel for Insects,” an interactive installation by Brandon Ballengée. Westminster College’s Great Salt Lake Institute brings this work to various Utah locations July 18 through July 27.

Brandon Ballengée is an artist, biologist and environmental educator. His “Love Motel for Insects” is an ongoing trans-species, public-art series of outdoor ultra-violet light sculptures and pollinator gardens that attract arthropods, with the intent of connecting humans with a side of nature many of us know very little about: insect life.

Utah’s “Love Motel for Insects” will be in the shape of brine fly wings – representing the incredible biomass (food source) they provide to wildlife at Great Salt Lake. The light-sculpture exhibit will travel to various Utah locations to attract a variety of native insects.

“Insects are a critical part of our wild and human ecosystems and different insects live in different locations. We will move the installation to see where different insects live and interact with them in their habitat,” said Jaimi Butler, coordinator at Westminster’s Great Salt Lake Institute.

Ballengée started “Love Motel for Insects” in 2001 in Costa Rica. He has taken the mesmerizing structures around the world: Delhi, London, Venice, Loch Ness in Scotland, New York City and many other venues. This project is an opportunity for the public to observe rarely seen and often misunderstood organisms, each installation responds to the ecology specific to its site. During the day, butterflies and other pollinating insects visit the lighted sculpture, attracted by the native pollinator plants and the large white forms. At night, moths, lacewings, beetles and other rarely seen nocturnal arthropods continue the festivities, attracted by the softly glowing UV lights. Participants at the interactive work may conduct insect inventories to investigate population decline and climate change or just observe the insect diversity at the site.

Westminster College’s Great Salt Lake Institute is funded through a grant from the Keck Foundation for SALT: Scientists and Artists Learning Together. The grant funds Westminster’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) curriculum for undergraduate students and programing like “Love Motel for Insects.” Co-sponsored by the Natural History Museum of Utah.

Full Schedule

“Love Motel for Insects” Trans-species public art By artist, biologist and environmental educator Brandon Ballengée

Participants are asked to dress appropriately (no DEET or repellents) for outdoor events. Headlamps, closed-toe shoes and water bottles encouraged. Download the iNaturlaist application to help us record our findings. Visit Great Salt Lake Institute on Facebook for more information.

July 18

“Family Bug Night” Natural History Museum of Utah Meet at the far north end of the museum adjacent to the drop-off roundabout, then walk east up the drive (watch for directional signs). 9:00–10:30 p.m. Free Experience the art and science of “Love Motels for Insects” with your entire family. NHMU’s resident entomologist, Christy Bills, will work with scientist and artist Brandon Ballangee to attract and identify the insects found around the Natural History Museum of Utah. Contact Becky Menlove for more information at 801.585.1073.

July 19

“Insects Under the Stars” Natural History Museum of Utah 7:45 p.m. For teachers. Crawl, climb and flutter to the Natural History Museum for a special nighttime Teacher Talk. Be prepared to observe and learn more about what sort of insects are in our own backyard!

July 21

Bug Fest Natural History Museum of Utah 2­­­–5 p.m. Museum entrance fee applies Bring your kids and explore the fascinating world of wiggly, winged, buzzy bugs with bug researchers. Our own Brandon Ballengée will present from 2–5 p.m..

July 21

Brine Fly Bash at Antelope Island State Park Antelope Island State Park Visitor’s Center 8:30 p.m. State Park entrance fee applies ($10 per car) Antelope Island is home to an astounding amount of brine flies and other insect life. Join us as we use the artwork of Brandon Ballengée to attract them to us. Be prepared to try some food made with bugs. Contact naturalist Charity Owens at for more information.

July 25

Bug and Bat Night with The Nature Conservancy Kay’s Creek area of the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve 8 p.m.–midnight Free In addition to bat observation, recording and mist-netting with bat experts, we will welcome artist/biologist Brandon Ballengée, whose ultra-violet light installation "Love Motels for Insects" will entice moths, beetles and other nocturnal arthropods to the site. Come observe and learn about the bats and nocturnal bugs that call this place home.

Please register with Andrea Nelson at

July 26

Bug night at the Jordan River Day-Riverside Library, TreeUtahEcoGarden near the west entrance 8–10 p.m. Free Come explore the bugs that call the Jordan River their home as the “Love Motel for Insects” visits the Day-Riverside Library.

July 27

Bugstock at Westminster College Richer Commons at Westminster College 8–11 p.m. Free Great Salt Lake Institute, SALT (Scientists and Artists Learning Together) and Westminster College present Bugstock: a celebration of art, science and collaboration with visiting artist and biologist Brandon Ballengeé. Bugstock is the culmination of 10 days of work and projects from around the Salt Lake area focused on bringing Brandon Ballengeé’s work to the public in interactive and hands-on displays of art and science.

The evening will feature Ballengée’s large-scale, public-art project “Love Motel for Insects,” which will be installed nearby for insect collection and cataloging. Enjoy live music and other performances by art/science researchers, a selection of bug appetizers and other snacks and presentations on student research that integrates art and science.

Contact Jaimi Butler: