Xestobium rufovillosum - Death Watch Beetle

A couple of nights ago we were kept awake by a loud and intermittent clicking sound, and I do mean loud, akin to a noisy clock. We were eventually able to narrow down the source of the noise to a wooden chair, one of its legs to be more precise.

In the morning upon closer examination of the noisy leg, there was evidence of little piles of dust on the floor around it. I took a screwdriver to the timber and began scraping away the loose surface, I didn't stop until I had uncovered three of these quite overfed larvae which had completely annihilated the chair leg.

I've removed the chair from the house in case there are any more in it. Should I be concerned that they have already infested other parts of the building?!



This is what they sound like http://www.arkive.org/death-watch-beetle/xestobium-rufovillosum/video-09a.html

We had a loud clicking noise in our walls in 2 rooms throughout April. Now we only hear it occasionally and it is much quieter. Thank you for this post... we now know what it is.

Not a termite. We got termites in our house in Mauritius, whilst we were absent. They ate about half of our kitchen units! It cost us over a grand to get Rentokil to get rid of them! They look like bloated whitish ants.

I feel welcomed already, thanks for the kind words from y'all. Sorry Brian I don't do miracles, can't you marry 'em off or something?!

I'll say welcome too Robert. Just saw your job and, well I have these two daughters you see... ;-)

Hi Catherine, Thanks, good to be here!

possibly, but probably not, If you look under the bark of your oak logs, you will see similar dust. Keep an eye (and ear) out for dust piles. Injecting is laborious therefore costly. 5 bar "pulverisateur" will penetrate just as well as injecting. It just depends on the product you use!

Good luck,

By the way, I recommend you only have a max 2 day's supply of wood in the house and never leave firewood in the house in the warm months.

Hi Robert

Thanks for the advice, I'm not so sure there aren't more in the roof, I'm going to go up there asap to check.

Welcome to SFN!


Hi Robert

Well since we removed the offending chair, there has been no more tapping. The chair had been outside all summer near our wood pile so is it possible that this could be an isolated outbreak? So to speak?

And welcome by the way!

Hi I've just registered with Survive France, through Sarah Bird who kindly mentioned me in this post. This is my first post and I might get shot for mentioning the fact that I am a Brit with a french diploma in Pest Control, (Dear Moderator, please feel free to delete that!)

They certainly aren't termites. Termites are more like white ants, what you have there is a grub, a very hungry one at that. Other postees have mentioned capricorne or death watch beetle (DWB). If you are being kept awake by tapping, then it's probably DWB.

Yup, termites need to be reported but anything else is up to you to get sorted. It would be advisable to get it professionally treated. Stuff bought from your brico store I quote the tin "is for amateur or gardener use" Therefore the toxicity isn't as strong as professional stuff.

I'm happy to give free impartial advice, whenever I get time to scribe!

Look back over thread Pual ;-) We got there very early. Gordon, the larvae don't mate the adults do but that is out in the open. The clicks are, according to the clever site I was reading, when they bite on to a another fibre of the wood and break it to start munching. But yes, the females lay thousands of eggs... Then when those grow up the return home to lay theirs!

Looking at the picture… I don’t think that is a termite…!

I believe the clicking noise is their mating call! - and the female lays thousands of eggs! Look at other parts of the house - timber roof beams etc - the Capricorn leaves a hole about 10mm diameter.

Chemical injection is best done by a specialist who will give a guarantee - alternatively the products are available in the Brico outlets in bulk form for brushing on or using your own spray gun. Also there are smaller aerosol sprays of the same product but expensive in small quantities.

Yes he is Sarah http://www.survivefrance.com/profile/RobertMoon

One point overlooked in our enthusiasm is the rest of the house. You need to have total silence for 10 or so minutes. In that time you will hear clicks, if they are present. That long will give you time enough to see how far apart they are and if it happens to be a couple of metres then worry. I have no idea how or why, but they are more active at night than in the day - evenings just after it is dark is good. We have loads in our firewood. It is being cut so that they get burned as immediately as possible but the stuff is far enough away from the house to not worry and the beams in the barn so massive that we are not to concerned about them. It has been in the house in the past so we listen and when we find a spot ring it with plugs and fill them to eradicate the beasts. Look for holes you could stick a pencil into with fresh wood dust around it too, although that generally means they are gone.

Is Rob Moon a member of this site? He's a pest controller, and covers all of France dealing with everything from bed bugs to our larger fourlegged fluffy friends -I don't know how to check if he's a member, but think he'd be a valid contributor to our pest issues!

When we built our house in Mauritius 10 years ago, the contractor scrimped to save £150 by not treating the ground before building. 2 years later, we had termites like you wouldn't believe. It cost us £1000 to get Rentokil to come and treat everything, in retrospect.

I think this has been a good post for all of us with beams and the like, at least we are all very prepared now.

Hi James just to add my penny worth, the grub looks to me to definitely be a Capricorn the grubs grow up to the size of an index finger up to the middle knuckle. If you have removed the chair great burn it asap. The Lifecycle is as described on this link http://ec.europa.eu/environment/nature/natura2000/management/docs/Cerambyx%20cerdo%20factsheet%20-%20SWIFI.pdf

I have experience with them in my barn but they were contained in my wood stock for heating so not too much of a problem. The female and the male adults for that matter are scary looking things see this clip from YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hO1dZ-8g_c If you don't have any other evidence of dust or noise don't worry to much just have a good look around and if you find anymore evidence treat the wood with xylophene which you can get at your local brico or throw out and burn as you have done before. The grubs come out in the warmer weather as formed adults with wings and will want to lay eggs in other nooks and cranies. There must be some sexual activity at some point but don't know at what stage. I think you were unlucky getting the grubs in the chair, they normally like oak trees, poplar or other trees. Don't panic just have a good look around for anymore evidence.

Good luck


Hey! I'm a Capricorn & I've never nicked a telly (& I haven't eaten a chair for ages).