Facts about Deathwatch Beetles, "Scientific name for Deathwatch Beetle is Xestobium rufovillosum". The Deathwatch Beetle is a wood-boring beetle. They are very common in summer and habit mostly buildings. Along the Pacific Coast, the California deathwatch beetle is the most common. Just like most other beetles, it prefers old wood and will thrive in high humidity areas often causing most damage in spaces it crawls through.
History of Deathwatch Beetle
The Deathwatch Beetle is very popular due to its significance in culture. Here are a number of works that mention the beetle.
· In 1787, the beetle was included in a three-page inventory written by Francis Grose’s on contemporary omens of death.
· In Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”, the beetle is heard in the dark while Tom is in bed waiting for Huck to show up at the graveyard for the night. The beetle also showed up in Ian Fleming’s “Thunderball”.
· Other than the Deathwatch Beetle being mentioned in the novel “Practice Magic”, it is also featured in its film adaption. In the film, the Deathwatch Beetle is portrayed as a physical evidence of a curse in a family.
· Sandra Bullock, a character in the film has a dying husband and she believes that if she finds the beetle and kills it, it will save the husband from death.
· “The Tell-Tale Heart”, a story by Allan Poe, mentions the deathwatch beetle simply as “deathwatches”. The narrator can hear its sound in the walls as he watches over his victim in his death chamber.
· The Deathwatch Beetle is also mentioned in Julian Barnes’ “A History of the World in 10 chapters.
Attributes of Deathwatch Beetle
The Deathwatch Beetle has striated elytra and a humpback in appearance. Of the false powder post beetles in United States, the deathwatch beetles are the most destructive. The adult deathwatch beetle grows to attain lengths of about seven millimeters. The xylophagus larvae on the other hand reach lengths of up to eleven millimeters.
During very silent and cool summer nights, the deathwatch beetle creates a ticking or tapping sound that can be heard in old rafters and trusses of buildings. Because of this reason, the beetle is associated with quiet and sleepless nights giving them the name, the vigil (watch) that is kept besides the dying and the dead. The beetle, however, gets its full name by extension as most superstitious societies believed that the beetle is an omen that impend death. Other small insects such as the booklice of the family Psocidae, Anobium striatum, have also got the name “deathwatch” due to their ticking sound.
Feeding and Reproduction of Deathwatch Beetle
The xylophagus larvae (which is very soft) bores through wood as it feeds on it. Inside the larvae’s alimentary canal are pockets of yeast that are very important in helping the larvae be able to digest the cellulose it feeds on.
The mother Deathwatch Beetle on the other hand has two receptacles of yeast that are located around the orifice. This is where she lays eggs from meaning that each egg is laid with yeast clinging onto the shell. The reason for this is that as the larvae nibbles its way out of the shell; it will swallow some of the yeast which will therefore help it in digestion of the cellulose it feeds on.
"Scientific name for beetle is Coleoptera".