The Virginia Tech Insect Collection (VTEC) also serves as a depository of terrestrial arthropod voucher specimens. A voucher is a specimen of an organism that is the subject of a scientific study, and is preserved for future reference. Voucher specimens are critical because they maintain a study’s ability to be repeated or confirmed in the future. In nearly all cases, the only way to confirm the identify of a species is through a voucher. The VTEC has been storing and preserving vouchers for the Department of Entomology, the Virginia Tech research community, and other public research institutions for more than 130 years.

Why voucher in entomology?

  • Science needs to be repeatable and verifiable. By depositing insects as vouchers that are the focus of your research, then future workers can verify identifications. Physical insect specimens are the best (sometimes only) way of verifying identifications.
  • Future workers can build upon your research. (DNA can even be extracted from properly preserved insects.)
  • Some journals or your committee may require the deposition of specimens as a prerequisite for publication or graduation.

Turney, S., Cameron, E. R., Cloutier, C. A., & Buddle, C. M. (2015). Non-repeatable science: assessing the frequency of voucher specimen deposition reveals that most arthropod research cannot be verified. PeerJ, 3, e1168. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1168

Voucher guidelines

  1. Specimens must be prepared according to standard curatorial practices in entomology
    1. Label paper should be 100% cotton rag and ≥ 20 lbs. weight*
    2. Each specimen requires three labels, from top to bottom: VTEC catalog label, locality label, and determination label. (A habitat label situated between the locality and determination labels is optional.)
    3. Maximum size of labels is ≤ 10 mm (wide) x ≤ 20 mm (long)
  2. Specimens must be identified to the taxonomic level indicated in the study. Material must be identified at least to family
  3. Specimens must have identification labels
  4. Specimens must be labeled with unique VTEC catalog numbers. Reference to these catalogued specimens (and their numbers, sexes, life history stages and institutional repository) should appear in the dissertation, thesis, or publication. At a minimum, VTEC catalog numbers should appear in your lab notebook.
  5. No unsorted, bulk, unidentified, and/or unlabelled specimens will be accepted

* Millipedes, aquatic insects, larvae, and other material preserved in alcohol must have labels printed on Resistall paper.

Faculty, staff, students and others may submit their voucher specimens or questions regarding vouchers to the Curator of the Virginia Tech Insect Collection: Dr. Paul Marek (pmarek@vt.edu)

Example of information on a locality label—

U.S.A., VA, Rockingham Co., ca. 4 mi. SSE
New Market, Endless Caverns RV Resort Pk,
0.1 mi. past entrance, dry stream/hillside
next to road, 38.59483N -78.67343W, +-6 m.
Elev. 340 m., 15.xi.2015, 1:20-2 PM
Colls: D. A. Hennen, J. C. Means

Example of information on a habitat label (optional)—

Open maple, hickory, hackberry woods
thin, dry leaf litter layer, many white ash saplings.

Example of information on a determination label—

Narceus americanus (Palisot de Beauvois, 1817)
Det: J. C. Means, 2017