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Department of Zoology



A lifelong interest in Diptera (flies, midges and gnats), especially their interactions with other organisms. I was formerly a medical entomologist in Belize (British Honduras) and Cameroon. I subsequently became interested in British Diptera, especially Meniscus Midges and Trickle Midges. I then became preoccupied (obsessed?) with Scuttle Flies. I am thus an ecologist who turned taxonomist, but now uses taxonomy as the means of being in a position to publish novel data on the natural history of scuttle flies. My main focus is now on the natural histories of the Phoridae of the world, with particular attention to those associated with social insects. Much of my work is summarised in Disney, R. H. L., 1994. Scuttle Flies: The Phoridae. London, Chapman & Hall. xii + 467pp. All this work involves much fundamental taxonomic work, as most species remain unknown to science. Much of my work is in collaboration with field workers around the world. One needs nine lives to be an entomologist - but one is never bored!


Key publications: 

Selected recent publications (from a total of >600)

Disney, R. H. L., 1968a. Observations on a zoonosis: Leishmaniasis in British Honduras. Journal of Applied Ecology 5: 1-59.

Disney, R. H. L., 1969b. Phoretic association between Simuliid blackflies and a prawn. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 63: 292.

Tsacas, L. & Disney, R. H. L., 1974. Two new African species of Drosophila (Diptera, Drosophilidae) whose larvae feed on Simulium larvae (Dipt., Simuliidae). Zeitschrift für Tropenmedizin und Parasitologie 25: 360-377.

Disney, R. H. L., 1976f. A survey of blackfly populations (Dipt., Simuliidae) in West Cameroon. Entomologist's Monthly Magazine 111: 211-227 (1975).

Disney, R. H. L., Coulson, J. C. & Butterfield, J.,1981.  A survey of the scuttle flies (Diptera: Phoridae) of upland habitats in Northern England. Naturalist, Hull 106 (957): 53-66.

Disney, R. H. L., 1983a. Scuttle Flies - Diptera, Phoridae (except Megaselia). Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 10(6): 1-81, with 186 figs.

Disney, R. H. L., 1986a. A new genus of scuttle-fly (Diptera: Phoridae) from England. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society  87: 85-89.

Disney, R. H. L., 1986d. Two remarkable new species of scuttle-fly (Diptera: Phoridae) that parasitize termites (Isoptera) in Sulawesi. Systematic Entomology 11: 413-422.

Disney, R. H. L., 1986g. Assessments using invertebrates: posing the problem. Chapter 12: 271-293. In Usher, M. B. (Ed.). Wildlife Conservation Evaluation. Chapman and Hall, London. 394pp.  ISBN 0 412 26750 0.

Disney, R. H. L., 1987b. Observations on a peculiar mechanism in the crop of some Phoridae (Diptera) and its taxonomic value. Journal of Natural History 21: 275-280.

Disney, R. H. L., 1989a. Scuttle Flies - Diptera Phoridae Genus Megaselia. Handbooks for the Identification of British Insects 10(8): 1-155. ISBN 0 901546 74 7.

Disney, R. H. L., 1989g. The 'missing' males of the Alamirinae/Termitoxeniinae complex and the supposed hermaphroditism in Termitoxeniinae (Diptera: Phoridae). Sociobiology 16: 109-120.

Disney, R. H. L., 1990f. Revised key to Puliciphora (Diptera: Phoridae) of the Australasian and Oriental Regions, with third report of a larval Parasitica (Hymenoptera) in an adult fly. Entomologica scandinavica 21: 211-218.  

Disney, R. H. L., 1991e. Family Phoridae. Pp. 143-204. In Soós, A. & Papp, L. (Editors). Catalogue of Palaearctic Diptera. Volume 7 (Dolichopodidae – Platypezidae). Akademiai Kiado, Budapest.  291 pp. ISBN 963 05 5763 0. 

Disney, R. H. L., 1991k. Aenigmatistes (Diptera: Phoridae), Aschiza with a ptilinum! Bonner zoologisches Beiträge 42: 353-368.

Disney, R. H. L. & Cumming, M. S., 1992. Abolition of the Alamirinae and ultimate rejection of Wasmann's theory of hermaphroditism in Termitoxeniinae (Diptera, Phoridae). Bonner zoologische Beiträge 43: 145-154.

Disney, R. H. L. & Kistner, D. H., 1992. Revision of the termitophilous Thaumatoxeninae (Diptera: Phoridae). Journal of Natural History 26: 953-991.

Disney, R. H. L., 1994d. Scuttle Flies: The Phoridae. London, Chapman & Hall. xii + 467 pp. ISBN 0 412562520 X. [Archived by Springer Book Archives -]

Disney, R. H. L., Majerus, M. E. N. & Walpole, M. J., 1994. Phoridae (Diptera) parasitising Coccinellidae (Coleoptera). Entomologist 113: 28-42.

Disney, R. H. L. & Kistner, D. H., 1995. Revision of the Afrotropical Termitoxeniinae (Diptera: Phoridae). Sociobiology 26: 115-225.

Downie, J. R., Disney, R. H. L., Collins, L. & Hancock, E. G., 1995. A new species of Megaselia (Diptera, Phoridae) whose larvae prey upon the eggs of Leptodactylus fuscus (Anura, Leptodactylidae). Journal of Natural History 29: 993-1003.

Disney, R. H. L., 1996c. A new genus of scuttle fly (Diptera; Phoridae) whose legless, wingless, females mimic ant larvae (Hymenoptera; Formicidae). Sociobiology 27: 95-118.

Disney, R. H. L. & Kistner, D. H., 1997a. Revision of the Oriental Termitoxeniinae (Diptera: Phoridae). Sociobiology 29: 3-118.

Disney, R. H. L. & Ross, A.  J., 1997. Abaristophora and Puliciphora (Diptera: Phoridae) from Dominican amber and revisionary notes on modern species. European Journal of Entomology 93: 127-135 (1996).

Disney, R. H. L. & Weinmann, D., 1998.  A further new species of Phoridae (Diptera) whose larvae associate with large spiders (Araneae: Theraphosidae). Entomologica scandinavica 29: 19-23.

Disney, R. H. L., 1998g. Family Phoridae.  Chapter 3.4: 51-79. In Papp, L. & Darvas, B. (editors). Contributions to a Manual of Palaearctic Diptera.  Volume 3.Higher Brachycera. Budapest, Science Herald.  880 pp. ISBN 963 04 8838 8.

Disney, R. H. L. & Darlington, J. P. E. C., 2000a. Alate Termites (Isoptera: Termitidae) parasitized by a scuttle fly (Diptera: Phoridae). Sociobiology 35:63-78.

Disney, R. H. L., 1999c. British Dixidae (Meniscus Midges) and Thaumaleidae (Trickle Midges): Keys with Ecological Notes. Freshwater Biological Association, Scientific Publications 56: 1-129.  ISBN 0 900386 60 6.

Disney, R. H. L., 2001d. The scuttle flies (Diptera: Phoridae) of Buckingham Palace Garden. Supplement to the London Naturalist 80: 245-258.

Disney, R.H. L., 2002i. Fraudulent forensic scientists. Journal de Médecine Légale Droit Médical 45: 225-230.

Disney, R. H. L., 2003d. Tasmanian Phoridae (Diptera) and some additional Australasian species. Journal of Natural History 37: 505-639.

Disney, R. H. L., 2003i. The dorsal abdominal glands and the higher classification of the Phoridae (Diptera). Zootaxa 293: 1-16.

Disney, R. H. L., 2004g. Insecta: Diptera, Phoridae. Pp. 818-825 in Yule, C. M. & Yong,  H. S. (Editors) Freshwater Invertebrates of the Malaysian Region. Kuala Lumpur: Academy of Sciences Malaysia. ISBN 983-41936-0-2.

Disney, R. H. L. 2005d. Duration of development of two species of carrion breeding scuttle flies and forensic implications. Medical and Veterinary Entomology 19:229-235.

Disney, R. H. L., 2006h. Insects of Arabia scuttle flies (Diptera: Phoridae) Part I: all genera except Megaselia. Pp 473-521 in Krupp, F. (Editor-in-Chief) Fauna of Arabia 22: pp 530. Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M, Germany and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Ryadah, Kingdom of Sudi Arabia. ISBN 13 978-3-929907-76-6.

Disney, R. H. L., Elizalde, L. & Folgarait, P. J., 2006. New species and revision of Myrmosicarius (Diptera: Phoridae) that paraqsitize leaf-cutter ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 47: 771-809.

Disney, R. H. L., 2008a. Natural history of the scuttle fly, Megaselia scalaris. Annual Review of Entomology 53: 39-60.

Disney, R. H. L. & Sinclair, B. J., 2008. Some scuttle Flies (Diptera: Phoridae) of the Galápagos Islands. Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 151: 115-132.

Disney, R. H. L., 2009d. Superfamily Platypezoidea Family Phoridae. In Gerlach, J. (editor) Seychelles Fauna Monographs. The Diptera of the Seychelles islands. Chapter 11: 167-236. Pensoft Series Faunistica 85. Sofia-Moscow, 431 pp. ISBN 978-954-642-461-7

Disney, R. H. L., 2009g. Insects of Arabia scuttle flies (Diptera: Phoridae) Part II: the genus Megaselia. Pp 249-357 in Krupp, F. (Editor-in-Chief) Fauna of Arabia 24. 405 pp. Senckenbergische Naturforschende Gesellschaft, Frankfurt a.M, Germany and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Ryadah, Kingdom of Sudi Arabia. ISBN 978-3-929907-80-3.

Disney, R. H. L. & Manlove, J. D., 2009. First report of Triphleba nudipalpis (Becker) (Diptera: Phoridae) in a forensic case. Forensic Science International 191: e1-e3. Disney, R. H. L. & Rettenmeyer, C. W., 2010. New species and new records of scuttle flies (Diptera: Phoridae) associated with Neotropical army ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). Sociobiology 55(1A): 7-88.

Disney, R. H. L., 2011m. Forensic science is not a game. Pest Technology 5: 16- 22.

Disney, R. H. L., 2013. An unusually rich scuttle fly fauna (Diptera, Phoridae) from north of the Arctic Circle in the Kola Peninsula, N. W. Russia. ZooKeys 342: 45-74.

Disney, R. H. L., 2015b. Scuttle flies (Diptera: Phoridae) from the canopies of oak  trees (Fagaceae) in Norway, including 13 new species. Norwegan Journal of Entomology 62: 20-52.

Disney, R. H. L., 2015e. Diptera Phoridae (Scuttle Flies). In Böcher, J., Kristensen, P., Lyneborg, L., Michelsen, V., Pape, T. & Vilhelmsen, L. Editors) Identification handbook of the Greenland entomofauna. Copenhagen. Chapter 17-15: 582-588. 

Hartop, E. A., Brown, B. V. &. Disney, R. H. L., 2015. Opportunity in our ignorance of urban biodiversity: study reveals 30 new species and one new Nearctic record for Megaselia (Diptera Phoridae) in Los Angeles (California, USA). Zootaxa 3941(4): 451-484.

Zuha, R. M. & Disney, R. H. L., 2015. A scuttle fly (Diptera: Cyclorrhapha, Phoridae) that omits sclerotization of the puparium. Studia dipterologica 21(2):173–176 2014).

Disney, R. H. L., 2016c. Review of Oriental Chonocephalus Wandolleck (Diptera: Phoridae). Annales Zoologici 66(2): 277-328.

Disney, H., 2017c. REGAINING LIFE’S WINDING TRAIL (An unusual life of a scientist and poet) Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd. 468 pages. [Paperback, Hardback & E-book -]

Disney, R. H. L., 2017d. Systematic review of the European Gymnophora Macquart (Diptera: Phoridae), with five new species. Fragmenta faunistica 60(1): 23–46.



Zoology Research Fellow, University Museum of Zoology

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