Insect ID Lab COVID mailing policy beginning April 1, 2020


Dear Extension Agents and others who use the Insect Identification Lab,


Due to the Essential Operations Status for Virginia Tech that will start on Friday, April 3, the Insect Identification Lab (ILL) is moving to accepting strictly electronic image samples except in cases of medical or veterinary importance. Since March 16, most of the samples have been via image attachment to an email and that has worked reasonably well. 


The IIL is currently open but will only accept electronic images for insects, mites, and plants damaged by insects and mites. We will not process new physical samples of these types at this time. If a client has an image, please have them send it to you or someone in your extension office. Eliminate any fuzzy, out of focus photos as we cannot work with those. Request additional images from your client if needed. Once you have a good, clear image or set of images, email them and a scan of the diagnosis request form from a VCE agent email address to


For insects or other arthropods of medical or veterinary importance (ticks, mosquitoes, etc.) that require examining a physical sample, please contact Eric Day directly at We will make arrangements to receive the sample and process it in a timely manner. 


Smartphones generally take good images if you follow a few guidelines. Please submit digital images that are clear and in focus. Please zoom in as much as possible to the subject without making the image fuzzy. Please include a coin, a pencil, a ruler, or some other common object to allow us to gauge the size of the insect. If the insect is dead and not moving, please take it out of the container before taking the images. Include multiple views from the top, side, and bottom of the insect. Images taken in strong daylight are best; if this is not possible, try to illuminate the insect from both sides to eliminate shadows in the photo. Check your images for clarity before you submit them.


Fill out the IIL diagnosis request form to your best ability. Follow this link for the most current version: and take a photo of the completed form, too. We do need a photo of the request form to process your sample.

Email the photos of the completed request form and photos of the insect together to Many of you have submitted samples to the ILL this way before now.

We will check for any samples that have physically mailed to us, but there may be a delay in reaching our lab or when they are processed by us. If you have sent a sample recently and have not received a reply yet, please contact me as soon as possible. 


We apologize in advance for any delays you experience with your reports. Please know that we are doing our best to maintain diagnostic services during this time. We will reappraise our approach as the situation evolves.


Best regards,  Eric Day and Theresa “Tree” Dellinger