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Death watch in the toilet

beams

Not many mornings I wake to find myself in my underpants, balanced on one foot, cupping my ear to the wall.

No, seriously. Not that many mornings at all.

This morning, Weasel awoke to the cheerful clatter of death watch beetles eating Badger House. Xestobium rufovillosum is a beetle native to Britain that eats gouges into ancient wooden beams and taps out clickity lovesongs in Spring.

Usually, they come in to the house on fresh oak planks when they are still moist, and spend a few hundred years chewing neat holes and lazy channels in the structural members. Pretty much all ancient houses and churches have some woodworm damage.

Badger House has plenty. It’s just, we were hoping it was all old. Fresh woodworm is bad mojo. They are damn near impossible to kill, and subject to more costly quack cures than arthritis and erectile dysfunction, put together. (Which sounds really awful, you have to admit).

This particular woodworm is called ‘death watch’ on account of the clicking, which you are most likely to hear on still, quiet Summer nights. While you’re all sitting around waiting for Grammy to kick it. And so, by extension, the sound came to be regarded as an omen of death. But, really, omens of eating the fucking house down around my ears is depressing enough.

We have to get someone in to look at this or we’ll go howling psychotic.

sock it to me

Comments


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: April 6, 2009, 7:03 pm

A good sound sample is here. We have five or six of these fuckers going in different parts of the house right now.

 


Comment from Mike C.
Time: April 6, 2009, 7:57 pm

Think chlorinated hydrocarbons. Capable of killing any life form on the planet. And with a half-life of something like 35 years, so one application should hold you for a good, long while. Of course, they’re undoubtedly banned there, as the best ones are in the US. But if you’re in touch with the shady underworld of black market insecticides, go for it.

Oh – don’t get any on you. Mammals are a hell of a lot easier to poison than insects.

 


Comment from Gnus
Time: April 6, 2009, 7:58 pm

Clickity lovesongs. Castanets? Dig in there and there’s probably a fiesta in progress.

And Jolly Olde thought drowning the Armada was the end of things…

Tricksy, them spaniards.

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: April 6, 2009, 8:20 pm

The irony is, Gnus, when and where Badger House was built, the principle was, more or less: 1/ decide to build a house. 2/ Wait for ship to sink. 3/ Salvage wood.

Could well have been one of Don Halfwit’s boats.

Or a French vessel. That would have been good. Maybe even better.

Merdre!

 


Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: April 6, 2009, 8:25 pm

Ewwwwwwwwww! I can think of nothing else to say. Just ewwwwww! Moving back to the US would certainly cross my mind. Ewwwwwwwwww!

 


Comment from scubafreak
Time: April 6, 2009, 9:07 pm

Yuck. Nothing like the joys of having to tent your house for 24 hours while caustic fumes are pumped into the place to kill everything that ever exhibited any sign of life.

Good luck with that. :-(

 


Comment from porknbean
Time: April 6, 2009, 9:13 pm

Witches of Eastwick

 


Comment from Mrs. Hill
Time: April 6, 2009, 9:36 pm

“Moving back to the US would certainly cross my mind.”

What, back to the termites and powderpost beetles? 😉

 


Comment from scubafreak
Time: April 6, 2009, 9:45 pm

P&B. I think you mean “Practical Magic” with Sandra Bullock.

 


Comment from bad cat robot
Time: April 6, 2009, 10:32 pm

I’m a great fan of Timbor. It’s mostly borate and pretty innocuous for us vertebrates, but not for bugs. I treated all the floor joists in my house (after an expensive, bug-caused replacement) and I chortled thinking of the next bug that took a bite of that wood and keeled over. Hey, I provide them with *plenty* of scrap wood to gnaw on. I draw the line at my HOUSE.

 


Comment from See-Dubya
Time: April 6, 2009, 11:42 pm

What happened to IRB over there? He looks like Sloth from the Goonies!

 


Comment from porknbean
Time: April 6, 2009, 11:52 pm

Oops, you are correct scuba! Got my witches mixed up.

 


Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: April 6, 2009, 11:54 pm

Sorry to hear that, Weas. Hope you guys can kill ’em dead.

*points to the left sidebar* Did everyone notice the new graphic? I think I’m going to have nightmares now.

 


Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: April 7, 2009, 12:14 am

Nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

 


Comment from Scott Jacobs
Time: April 7, 2009, 1:07 am

or we’ll go howling psychotic

Go?

 


Comment from scubafreak
Time: April 7, 2009, 1:23 am

Airdale – Don’t forget the high platau where the ship they came in is located. Gotta get the source too… 😉

 


Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: April 7, 2009, 7:04 am

My best friend as a kid used to live in a listed building and I always wondered what those little, (seemingly) perfectly circular holes in the beams were.

Is there nothing to be done? That’d keep me awake at night.

 


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: April 7, 2009, 7:16 am

It seems opinions differ, Gibby. The fact that the place is listed means any treatment will have to be pretty conservative (naturally!). I’ve booked a surveyor to come at the end of April. No one seems to think the house will fall down before then.

Mind you, the ticking might drive us crazy.

 


Comment from dfbaskwill
Time: April 7, 2009, 7:52 am

Sounds like a good Hitchcock movie in their somewhere! Tick, tick, tick (pan to psycho with a knife…)

 


Comment from TheBigBlueBug
Time: April 7, 2009, 8:45 am

Play Yoko Ono CD’s all day and night. I know bugs and bugs can’t stand the howling and the inanity and the howling or the
inane howling.

Sure, you’ll have to pull you own heads off because of the stupid bint wailing but it’s the principle of the thing.

 


Comment from apotheosis
Time: April 7, 2009, 9:35 am

Ender Wiggin would know what to do.

 


Comment from Gnus
Time: April 7, 2009, 10:29 am

Seems kinda limited, living in an historical monument. Or is it hysterical? Hard to keep ’em straight.

You think the castanets are bad, Uncle B, wait until they start the flamenco. Ole!

 


Comment from Lemur King
Time: April 7, 2009, 11:54 am

Would I be ridiculous for asking why they don’t just fumigate the wood when it is fresh and stop the problem before it starts?

I must say, the discussion of worms eating wood is much more palatable than the discussion of worms eating people over at Steamboat McGoo’s. Hadn’t thought it possible to send me screaming out of a blog. Doing a hell of a job over there. :)

Long time no catch-up, hope you’re doing well, Weas. Great post-pic of MichellObama hugging da Queen Mum.

 


Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: April 7, 2009, 12:16 pm

Long time no catch-up, hope you’re doing well, Weas. Great post-pic of MichellObama hugging da Queen Mum.

Now that I would like to see. The Queen Mum has been dead for seven years.

As for the wood, those beams are several hundred years old. I’m not sure what wood-fumigating techniques, if any, existed back then.

 


Comment from Mrs. Hill
Time: April 7, 2009, 12:18 pm

Mrs. Peel — Mister Hill and I noticed it too, last night — made me shudder! But when did it appear? (We’re either observant or slow on the uptake — heh!)

 


Comment from Nicholas the Slide
Time: April 7, 2009, 12:45 pm

Could well have been one of Don Halfwit’s boats.

What would he need a boat for? There’s no windmills on the ocean… Maybe he’s going after lighthouses now.

What happened to IRB over there? He looks like Sloth from the Goonies!

“Why you talk so mean ’bout SLOOOOOOTH??”

Ender Wiggin would know what to do.

That’s cause he ALWAYS knows what to do.

 


Comment from Lemur King
Time: April 7, 2009, 1:05 pm

Oops. I’m too old when I go on autopilot and open the bullshit floodgates like that. LIZ. Ooops. Hope I didn’t offend.

What I had read was in the original post

Usually, they come in to the house on fresh oak planks when they are still moist, and spend a few hundred years chewing neat holes and lazy channels in the structural members.

I was thinking that people were adding on and getting newer problems.

I really picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

 


Comment from porknbean
Time: April 7, 2009, 1:43 pm

I really picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

Maybe you’ve got worms?

*snickers*

 


Comment from Michael
Time: April 7, 2009, 4:01 pm

High five to Uncle Badger for leaving the toilet seat up. We can’t let the chicks push us around on this issue.

 


Comment from scubafreak
Time: April 7, 2009, 4:01 pm

Well, it could be worse, I suppose….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk97Oil2qnc

😉

 


Comment from Hector Owen
Time: April 16, 2009, 10:11 pm

Oh, so that was why the house was falling down around her ears

 


Pingback from S. Weasel
Time: April 21, 2009, 8:24 pm

[…] we had a surveyor in to look at our deathwatch beetles. We got his name from a local real estate agent who deals in ancient buildings. It’s no good […]

 

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