Death watch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum)

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Death watch beetle
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Death watch beetle fact file

Death watch beetle description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderColeoptera
FamilyAnobiidae
GenusXestobium (1)

The larvae of the common death watch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum) are notorious pests of furniture and structural timbers in buildings (3). Adult death watch beetles have cylindrical bodies and small heads (2).

The common name refers to the repeated ticking sound produced by the adults as they bang their heads against the wood, possibly to attract a mate. When heard at night, this eerie mating call was once thought to count down to the time of death (4).

Size
Length: 5 - 9 mm (2)
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Death watch beetle biology

Adult death watch beetles may be found on flowers during the spring. In many species belonging to this family of beetles (Anobiidae), the gut contains microorganisms that help the beetles to break down the cellulose found in wood (2). The adult females lay eggs in crevices on the wood, and the larvae tunnel in after hatching (5). The presence of the larvae in wood can go unnoticed until the adults emerge, leaving distinctive holes at the surface. These exit holes measure around three to four millimetres in diameter (3).

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Death watch beetle range

The death watch beetle is common and widespread in southern England (1), and is less common as a pest species in the north of England (1).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Death watch beetle habitat

The death watch beetle occurs as a pest of wood indoors or in dead wood of very old trees outside (1).

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Death watch beetle status

The death watch beetle is not threatened (1).

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Death watch beetle threats

The deatch watch beetle is not considered to be threatened.

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Death watch beetle conservation

Conservation action is not required for the death watch beetle.

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Find out more

Discover more about invertebrates and their conservation:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Larvae
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
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References

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January, 2004)
    http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn
  2. Harde, K.W. (2000) Beetles. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
  3. Kendall Bioresearch (January, 2004)
    http://www.kendall-bioresearch.co.uk/woodworm.htm
  4. Buczaki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
  5. Chinery. M. (1993) Insects of Britain and Northern Europe. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, London.
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Image credit

Death watch beetle  
Death watch beetle

© John Mason / www.ardea.com

Ardea wildlife pets environment
59 Tranquil Vale
London
SE3 0BS
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 208 318 1401
ardea@ardea.co.uk
http://www.ardea.com

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