MSU entomologists help the greenhouse industry protect pollinators

Two researchers from MSU's Department of Entomology, David Smitley and Zachary Huang, are joining a team of scientists led by Rutgers University in a $2.8 million USDA SCRI grant that will work with the ornamental horticulture industry.

Two researchers from MSU’s Department of Entomology, David Smitley and Zachary Huang, are joining a team of scientists led by Rutgers University in a $2.8 million USDA SCRI grant that will work with the ornamental horticulture industry to provide safer plants for pollinators.

The project will improve home landscapes for pollinators by studying:

  • The attractiveness of specific ornamental horticulture plants for honey bees, bumble bees and other native pollinators.
  • The concentration of systemic pesticides in pollen and nectar to determine whether residues exceed safe levels with current ornamental horticulture production practices.
  • Current and alternative insect management strategies for economics, efficacy and toxicology (impact on mammals, birds, fish and the environment).
  • People's perceptions and purchasing habits for pollinator-attractive plants.

With the information from these studies, the team will design best management practices for growers and landscape professionals to deal with pest problems while protecting pollinators.

In Michigan, Smitley and Huang will focus on evaluating attractiveness of the most popular annual and perennial flowers to pollinators, and determining if systemic insecticides used during production move into the pollen and nectar.

To read more about the project, see the MSU Today story: MSU Helps Protect Pollinators.

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