24 SEN 00186 Veseris Evolve Tower Ad FNL 4

Pest Information

Deathwatch Beetle

Deathwatch Beetle

  • Latin Name: Xestobium rufovillosum
  • Common Name: Deathwatch Beetle
  • Latin Family Name: Anobiidae
  • Other Names: N/A

Pest Details


Possibly European in origin, as it is a much more common and more important wood problem in those countries. It is also present in much of the United States, although not commonly, and is rarely found along the west coast.


The deathwatch beetle is named for the habit of the adults of rapidly tapping their heads on a wood surface as a means of communicating with a potential mate. Adults emerge in the spring, mate, and die within a few weeks after this. Females lay around 50 eggs, 3 or 4 at a time, into pores, cracks, or holes in the wood, and these beetles will commonly re-infest the same wood they emerged from. Under good conditions the life cycle will be completed in one year, but examples have been seen where it took up to 10 years for the complete cycle from an egg to an adult beetle. This beetle attacks mainly hardwoods, and oak is a favorite. Wood high in moisture may be preferred, as the larvae require that the wood they eat has been pre-digested to some extent by fungi.


The deathwatch beetle is one species in a large family of beetles that bear its name. Typically, the species damaging to structural wood members have their heads hidden when viewed from above, tucked below the overhanging prothorax. Their antennae are composed of a basal series of very small segments and the three terminal segments greatly enlarged and elongated, and much longer than the previous 8 segments altogether. The deathwatch beetle is a large species for the family, with adults about 7 mm long, a dark grayish brown, and with a wavy pattern of yellowish, scale-like hairs across the pronotum and elytra, and these areas are shiny due to the lack of pores on the exoskeleton. Damage is identified by the presence of dry, loose fecal matter that falls from the feeding channels when they are opened. The fecal material consists of small pellets, giving the material a grainy, gritty feel as opposed to the powdery feces of Lyctus beetles.

Characteristicts Important to Control:

Control of most beetles that infest structural wood begins with using clean, un-infested wood so the insects are not built in. For beetles that can re-infest the wood they emerge from elimination usually relies on fumigation, although heating or freezing of smaller objects may be effective. Removal and replacement of the infested wood is also effective where it is practical. Control of wood moisture will also help a great deal in the prevention of this species. The application of a borate insecticide where allowed by the product labeling will also serve to prevent beetles from entering the wood, and possibly kill larvae inside if penetration of the material is deep enough.

VM May Ad Banner EZ Secured US 042524
Back to top