Because certain fruit stock nurseries in New Jersey, having become infested with San Jose scale from California, were shipping infested trees up and down the Atlantic Coast as well as to points in New Jersey, the New Jersey Legislature on March 24, 1898, passed "An Act to prevent the introduction into and the spread of injurious insects in New Jersey, to provide a method for compelling their destruction, to create the office of State Entomologist, to authorize the inspection of nurseries and to provide for certificates of inspection." John B. Smith was instrumental in framing the bill and in urging its passage.
This act said that plants must be kept free from injurious insects that might spread to the lands of others. It named the entomologist of the Agricultural College Experiment Station as State Entomologist without pay. The executive committee of the State Board was authorized to appoint not more than three commissioners in each county, with pay and expenses, and when these commissioners discovered insect infestations on growing nursery stock they were to notify the owners in writing and demand the elimination of the infestation within five days. If the owners failed to take action, the case was reported to the State Entomologist who investigated and also gave notice for an abatement of the infestation. The owner had the right to appeal to a committee consisting of the director of the Experiment Station and the president of the State Board. If the State Entomologist was upheld by the appeal committee and the owner failed to obey the order of the State Entomologist, he was liable to a fine of $25 and the cost of the lawsuit which was to be started by the county commissioner. Certificates of freedom from injurious insects signed by the State Entomologist were provided for, and a copy had to be attached to each shipment of nursery stock. To carry out the provisions of the act, $1,000 was appropriated. This was the beginning of the nursery inspection service.
On June 13, 1902, Edgar L. Dickerson was appointed by the State Board as a summer assistant to Smith, during which time the nurseries were inspected. On April 14, 1903, a new insect control and nursery inspection act became a law. The clumsy provisions of the 1898 law were eliminated together with the county "insect commissioners," who apparently did not work out well. Under the new law the State Entomologist was put in complete charge of inspection, and provision was made for paid assistants and inspectors who were to devote full time to the work. By this time, E. L. Dickerson had been appointed on a full-time basis, and when Dickerson resigned in 1911 Harry B. Weiss was appointed in his place. Following Smith's death on March 12, 1912, Weiss was appointed Acting State Entomologist and remained in that position until T. J. Headlee was appointed to succeed Smith in October, 1912.
In 1890, the first catalogue of 6,098 species of New Jersey insects was published as Volume 11 of the final report of the State Geologist. As a supplement to the annual report of 1899, the Board published Smith's Catalogue of the Insects o/ New Jersey which included 8,537 species. Then, in 1909, as a report of the State Museum, a list which included over 10,000 species was published. Together these reports placed New Jersey in the front rank of states providing entomological information for their citizens.