As one aspect of his job as a cultural arts program specialist with the National Museum of the American Indian, Lavis is helping release ladybugs into the museum's field of corn, squash, beans and tobacco five times this summer. The next public release, which typically attracts many kids as helpers, is slated for 10 a.m. Friday, and two more will take place Aug. 6 and 20.

Why are you all doing this?

We were trying to find an eco-friendly way to repel the pests from our landscape.

How many of the bugs are you releasing each time?

We usually release about 10,000. There's a relatively small retention rate. We'll keep about 10 percent, which is standard for them. They'll go as far over as the butterfly garden and they'll go over to our friends at the botanical garden and do work over there, as well.

How big is a box of 10,000 ladybugs?

They're not very big. They come in a burlap bag with some straw. There's probably about 2,500 in each bag and the bag is not much bigger than your hand. We usually get them early in the week. We keep them in the refrigerator so that they are in a kind of dormant state.

What do they do in the croplands?

What we hope that they will do is reproduce, make little baby ladybugs or the little ladybird dragons because those will eat like 10 times their body weight a day. The adults don't eat as many... More than 5,000 aphids get eaten by a single ladybug in its lifetime.

Otherwise the aphids would be doing what?

They suck the sap out of the plant so it deforms the leaves, deforms the flowers.

What's your favorite part about the ladybug release?

Just watching the kids. They are just a kick. ... -- Kytja Weir