Written by

Danny Neill

How To Treat Deathwatch Beetle: Everything You Need To Know

Deathwatch beetles (Xestobium rufovillosum) are wood-boring insects known for their potential to cause significant damage to timber structures. These beetles infest not only old timbers in traditional buildings but also occasionally find their way into newer structures.

Our objective is to provide you with a comprehensive guide to understanding deathwatch beetles, the warning signs of infestation, and the most effective treatment methods.

We will also introduce the best products available on the market today to help combat these destructive pests, which can be found in our online store.


Larvae Stage and Lifespan

The life cycle of a deathwatch beetle begins when a female lays eggs in the cracks and crevices of old, damp timbers. Upon hatching, the larvae bore into the wood, where they feed on wood fibers and cellulose for years. Larvae are creamy-white in color, with C-shaped bodies and small dark brown heads. Their size ranges from 5mm to 9mm in length.

These wood-devouring grubs spend approximately two to ten years in the larval stage until they reach maturity. At this point, they tunnel closer to the wood's surface and begin the pupation process, transforming into adult beetles.

Adult deathwatch beetles have a lifespan of around 3-8 weeks, during which time they mate and lay eggs in cracks and crevices of timber.

Typical Adult Deathwatch Beetle


What Are The Warning Signs of Deathwatch Beetles?

It is crucial to identify the warning signs of a deathwatch beetle infestation to prevent extensive structural damage. Some of the most notable indicators of an infestation include:

  1. Adult Beetles: These are typically reddish-brown to dark brown in color, cylindrical shaped, and around 5mm - 7mm in length. They have a velvety texture with numerous patches of golden-yellow hairs.

  2. Exit Holes: Adult beetles create characteristic circular exit holes, about  3mm in diameter, when emerging from the wood. These holes often resemble the size of a pencil tip.

  3. Frass (Wood Dust): You may find heaps of wood dust, a by-product of larvae boring through wood, near the infested timbers.

  4. Weakened Timbers: Infested wood may appear structurally weakened or exhibit a honeycomb-like pattern due to the tunneling of the larvae.

Exit Holes on Timber caused by Deathwatch Beetle 


How Do You Treat Deathwatch Beetle Infestation?

Permethrin-based, deep penetrating products such as Lignum Pro Gel and Sovereign Deepkill are highly recommended for treating deathwatch beetle infestations.

Unlike spray treatments, these 'mayonnaise-like' pastes have the unique ability to penetrate deep into timbers and target the larvae. This is especially crucial since larvae are responsible for the extensive damage caused to wood structures.

These products seep through the wood fibers, reaching even the most well-hidden larvae, ensuring effective control of infestations. Spray treatments, on the other hand, only provide surface-level coverage and do not penetrate as deep, making them less effective in exterminating deathwatch beetle larvae.



Deathwatch beetles, with their voracious appetite for wood, can cause significant damage to timber structures if left untreated. Recognizing the warning signs of an infestation and using the most effective treatment methods are essential to mitigate the risk of severe structural damage.

Permethrin-Based Deep Penetrating Pastes such as Lignum Pro Gel and Sovereign Deepkill, available to order at Platinum Chemicals, target the destructive larvae to provide effective control and long-term protection of wood structures. Act now to protect your valuable property from these unwelcome pests.



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