Smitley receives highest horticultural entomology award from ESA

Dave Smitley was honored by the Entomological Society of America (ESA) for his distinguished achievement in horticultural entomology.

Dave Smitley receiving award
Dave Smitley receives his award from ESA President Susan Weller.

Dave Smitley was honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award in Horticultural Entomology by the Entomological Society of America (ESA) during the Society’s annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, in early November 2017. This award honors an entomologist who has contributed to the American horticulture industry, and is one of ESA’s highest honors for this field.

Smitley was particularly recognized for his work in introducing Entomophaga maimaiga, a natural fungal pathogen of gypsy moth, into Michigan, which caused a widespread collapse of gypsy moth throughout the state over an eight-year period. He also introduced a pathogen of Japanese beetle, Ovavesicula papillae, into Michigan, resulting in a 75 percent decline in Japanese beetle populations over a 15-year study period.

He has collaborated with Arborjet Inc. in developing the most widely used treatment to protect trees from emerald ash borer, a trunk injection with emamectin benzoate (TREEäge). Many of his field trials led to publications on how imidacloprid can provide a consistently high level of protection against emerald ash borer when applied as a basal soil drench. This allows homeowners to protect trees from emerald ash borer using products they can purchase at local garden centers.

More recently, Smitley has worked with nursery and greenhouse growers to develop practices for producing high-quality plants that are safe for pollinators. In 2016, he helped organize the first national conference on “Protecting Pollinators in Ornamental Landscapes.” In the same year, he led a team of entomologists to publish “Protecting and Enhancing Pollinators in Urban Landscapes.” In its first of publication, this bulletin was accessed more than any other Michigan State University Extension bulletin, with over 9,000 page views and over 5,200 downloads. The publication is tailored for the U.S. north central region and is being replicated for other regions of the country.

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