The Virginia Tech Insect Collection, founded in 1888, is the oldest and largest entomological collection in the Commonwealth. Its nearly half-million specimens represent the rich insect diversity of the eastern United States with emphasis on the Appalachian region. This collection is an exceptional repository of pollinators, endangered insects, and many native species, once common but now disappearing from habitat loss. Museum specimens provide a critical baseline for comprehending biological change through time, tracking the spread of insect disease vectors and agriculturally destructive invasive species that threaten our ecosystems, agriculture and public health. This collection is a frontier for the discovery and description of biodiversity, representing hundreds of undescribed new species.
With a generous award from the U.S. National Science Foundation (DBI# 1458045), we are improving the conditions of the collection. This award will provide support for personnel and new cabinets and drawers to improve conditions for specimens. Specimen data will be digitized and made accessible through online resources, improving access to “dark data” conserved alongside the physical specimens (more than 98 percent of the material is currently not digitized). Several scientifically valuable collections in the museum will be conserved, including specimens of Federally Endangered species, endemic Appalachian species, and critical pollinators.