Odonata consist of two modern suborders, Zygoptera - more commonly known as damselflies, which fold their wings on body after landing - and Anisoptera (or dragonflies) which unfold their wings to the sides when resting.
Today the collection has over 300,000 specimens, with most of the families represented. Imagos (adult individuals) are mainly dry preserved while larvae are preserved in alcohol.
The first comprehensive studies date back to Rambur’s research in 1842, who described many new species. At the end of the 19th century, these collections were mainly studied by amator or professional researchers external to the Muséum. R. Martin focussed exclusively on studying Odonata. His collection, which contains many types and covers all biogeographical regions, was incorporated into the Muséum’s collection in 1920. Due to its volume, it forms the main basis of the general collection for this order. Since the end of the 20th century, the collection has been considerably enriched with Afrotropical and Malagasy species collected during missions in West Africa and Madagascar.
As there is currently no research on this order taking place at the Muséum, this collection is managed by a retired searcher and volunteer (J. Legrand). The main activity surrounding this collection consists in welcoming scientists who are working on phylogeny, taxonomy and biogeography.