The Deathwatch Beetle’s name conjures up so many images and ideas doesn’t it? Well no, it’s not a Z grade horror movie or a monster you’ll see Godzilla fighting – although admittedly it’s understandable why you might think it is.
The Deathwatch Beetle is in fact a type of woodworm. Before anyone gets confused, yes it is a beetle. Woodworm is a generic term given to the infestation of wood by wood eating larvae – I suppose woodworm just seemed catchier than wood grubs.
The Deathwatch Beetle is one of the more talked about beetles in the extensive wood boring beetle family, most likely because it has such an imaginative name and because of the tall tales and urban legends that have been passed around about it.
The Tall Tales of the Deathwatch Beetle
Many stories about the Deathwatch Beetle have been passed around and the beetle is considered by some to be a death omen. Many of the tall tales about the Deathwatch Beetle originated due the ticking noise it makes.
When trying to attract mates, the Deathwatch Beetle makes a tapping / ticking sound that is often perceived as eerie, especially when people are in bed trying to sleep. This is where the association the Deathwatch Beetle has with causing sleepless nights or bad dreams originates from.
The tale of the Deathwatch Beetles constant vigil is also born from the fear that they’re always around you watching in the distance and all you can hear is their soft ticking noise. From this it was only a small jaunt to suspicions and rumours of them being omens of impending death.
Like with most tall tales they’re either very old, from a time when people were generally a lot more suspicious, or simply concocted to be entertaining or creepy and with a name like the Deathwatch Beetle can you really blame people for wanting to create scary stories about it? That being said, you can easily find recordings of the noise the Deathwatch Beetle makes around the internet and they certainly are quite creepy.
However while the stories about them might unnerve you, don’t forgot that the real thing to be worried about if you hear the dreaded clicking of the Deathwatch Beetle is that their larvae are probably going to making a meal out of anything wooden in your house.
If you find yourself with an infestation of Deathwatch Beetle, then you have a number of options available to you. Surface sprays are the most popular and like most treatments impart a preservative coating around the outside of the wood and the larvae can continue to eat merrily away inside the wood, and they only become effective when the adult beetle emerges and it has to eat through the outer poisonous layer.
In cases with deep infestations like this, then professional fumigation or heating treatments are your other options, but they can be impractical.