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.
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.