Pest Guides

Deathwatch Beetle

Xestobium rufovillosum


Deathwatch Beetle
  • Adult Deathwatch beetles are 5 to 7mm in length; where the larvae are 10mm in length.
  • These wood borer beetles are dark reddish brown and have yellowish scale-like hairs on the upper body and wing cases. The larvae are a creamy white hook-shape covered in golden hairs with dark brown jaws on its head.


  • After mating, the female Deathwatch beetle lays 3-4 eggs clustered in cracks of rough wood surfaces. They are whitish, oval shaped and she lays between 40 and 60 during her life. The eggs hatch within two to five weeks.
  • The larvae pupate just below the surface of the wood. The adult Deathwatch beetle emerges in early summer by gnawing through the surface and leaving the characteristic exit holes.


  • In its natural environment, this wood borer insect lives in the dead wood of several species of hardwood trees where fungal decay has set in.
  • Within buildings, the deathwatch beetle occurs almost entirely in old hardwood, in particular large oak timbers.
  • The larvae cause the most damage, as they tunnel in the wood for a period of between five and ten years.