Wednesday 15 May
Death watch beetle (Xestobium rufovillosum)
Death watch beetle fact file
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Death watch beetle description
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).
- Length: 5 - 9 mm (2)
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).Top
Death watch beetle rangeTop
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).Top
Death watch beetle status
The death watch beetle is not threatened (1).Top
Death watch beetle threats
The deatch watch beetle is not considered to be threatened.Top
Death watch beetle conservation
Conservation action is not required for the death watch beetle.Top
Find out more
Discover more about invertebrates and their conservation:
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:
- 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.
National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (January, 2004)
- Harde, K.W. (2000) Beetles. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
Kendall Bioresearch (January, 2004)
- Buczaki, S. (2002) Fauna Britannica. Hamlyn, London.
- Chinery. M. (1993) Insects of Britain and Northern Europe. Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, London.
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