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Deathwatch beetle (Xestobium refuvillosum)—G. E. HydeThe Natural History Photographic Agency/EB Inc.
Borer insect (beetle species Xestobium refuvillosum) that tends to be small (less than 0.5 in., or 1–9 mm) and cylindrical. When disturbed, it usually pulls in its legs and plays dead. It makes a ticking or clicking sound by bumping its head or jaws against the sides of the tunnels it creates as it bores into old furniture and wood, a sound that, according to superstition, forecasts a death.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on deathwatch beetle, visit Britannica.com.