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Virginia Tech Entomological Vivarium

Part of our teaching of entomology involves the use of live arthropods. Virginia Tech Entomology has maintained a live collection off and on for years. When the Hokie BugFest was started in 2011, the live collection was revived in a big way. The live arthropod specimens are the heart of the event - an event that has attracted over 22,000 youth and adults in its first five years. To support this and other outreach and teaching activities a live collection is highly important. It is our desire to provide use of the collection year around. A VIVARIUM is needed to open this collection to wider use.

vivarium (Latin, literally for "place of life"; plural: vivaria or vivariums) is an area, usually enclosed, for keeping and raising animals or plants for observation or research. Often, a portion of the ecosystem for a particular species is simulated on a smaller scale, with controls for environmental conditions.


Virginia Tech maintains greenhouse space for the purpose of raising live plants. But we don't have adequate and controllable space for live insects and their arthropod relatives. At present the live collection is housed in faculty and staff offices. It has grown to the point that we are busting at the seams. Visiting groups have to be broken into smaller groups of 2-3 individuals to tour the collection. When we move the bugs for the Hokie BugFest, it takes a special effort to carefully transport the collection offsite. Our current location has no loading dock or easy access. When 4-H tours, laboratory classes, and other visitors seek access we are forced to limit use of the collection.


The current collection is made up of over 100 species of spiders, scorpions, whipspiders, whipscorpions, beetles, millipedes, centipedes, ants, wasps, honey bees, cockroaches, water bugs, water scorpions, moths, mantids, butterflies, and others. Many are rare species. Our tarantula collection is quite special - coming from four continents. They range in size from miniature species of an inch or two, to large bird-eater spiders (up to 10-12 inches in size).


We are seeking an open laboratory area with space for 30 or more individuals walking through an open display area at one time. The area must be temperature and humidity controlled. It must have proper lighting and access to house the collection for teaching. Special cages are required, as well as special food and filtered water to keep the specimens alive. There are numerous labs on campus but their access is restricted due to occupation for other uses. So we are seeking space, support, and funds to hire a caretaker to keep this effort going. Donors are welcome...

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Help Preserve the Alwood Legacy!


William Bradford Alwood Legacy Fund


William Bradford Alwood


If you're interested in preserving the history of Virginia's agricultural experiment station, the memory of its founders, the accomplishments of their era, the Alwood legacy through scholarship and outreach, and protecting the Alwood Oak, you can now give a tax-deductible gift to the "William Bradford Alwood Fund."

We continue to offer a special edition art print for sale to support the Alwood Legacy Fund. For details, click HERE.

For more information on the history of William Alwood go to:

Giving Online:

To give online, please go directly to the online form. On the online form, please make sure, under "Gift Information," to designate your donation on the line listed as "Other Designation,"  then type in the amount and fund name: "Alwood Fund 875250"

Giving by Check:

Checks should be written to the "Virginia Tech Foundation" with a memo to the "Alwood Fund 875250." Please mail them to Vernon Meacham at the address below.


Did you know that you can make a pledge that will allow you to spread your donation in smaller payments over multiple years (up to five)? For most people, this is the way to give - it enables you to make a significant donation without a major impact on your budget.

For more information on giving, or to mail checks, please contact:

Vernon B. Meacham, Director of Development, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University Development (0402), 216-D Hutcheson Hall, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061 - (540) 231-3071 -


For more information about this project, please contact:

Dr. Michael J. Weaver, Professor, Department of Entomology (0409), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061- (540) 231-6543 -


  • Dedicate and preserve the Alwood Oak (large bur oak in front of Burruss Hall planted by Professor Alwood ~1895) - dedicated 10/14/11; preservation ongoing.
  • Build the Alwood Plaza - to honor Professor Alwood* and the history of the station; stonework completed, 8/1/12; rose garden completed, 6/30/13; dedicated, 8/13/13.
  • Support a unique annual outreach event (Alwood Days - Hokie BugFest) associated with Alwood Entomological Society; With our recent sixth annual event we have surpassed 29,700 people in attendance.
  • Preserve the history/archives of the station history, college, Virginia agriculture, and Alwood era (1859 to 1946); an ongoing effort involves seeking space and support to establish a college museum.
  • Promote scholarship and learning in the spirit of Professor Alwood's accomplishments in research, teaching and outreach; ongoing. Alwood Extension Award for entomology graduate students was initiated in September 2013. First awards given on February 26, 2014.


*In a letter to Professor Alwood (February 3, 1927), VPI President Julian Burruss noted that,"The splendid service which you rendered this institution will ever be remembered and it is my hope that some day your name will be honored in some permanent manner, which will remain here for all time to let those who come after us know of your part in the making of this institution." The plaza (erected at the site of the original experiment station) provides a place to sit, relax, enjoy the Alwood Oak,, and learn the history of the station and its founders.

A Golden Era of Agriculture

Virginia Agricultural & Mechanical College Grounds, 1887


Apple Picking in Virginia


Lewis Spray Book

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