One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A small beetle whose larvae bore into dead wood and structural timbers, causing considerable damage. The adult makes a tapping sound like a watch ticking, formerly believed to portend death.
Xestobium rufovillosum, family Anobiidae
- ‘Male death-watch beetles bang their heads against the sides of their wooden tunnels to attract females.’
- ‘Anobiids are similar to lyctids in color and size, but are cylindrical; the common furniture and death-watch beetles belong in this group.’
- ‘Indeed, the behaviour of death-watch beetle actually makes it more susceptible to surface treatments than common furniture beetle.’
- ‘The piece of oak pictured left has exit holes of death-watch beetle (larger holes, actual diameter about 3-4 mm) and furniture beetle (smaller holes).’
- ‘He studied the habits of wasps, death-watch beetles and migrating birds, and corresponded with Hans Sloane on smallpox and the noises made by unborn children in the womb.’
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