The Death-Watch. Superstitions have been associated with various insects from the earliest times, and in all countries. The death's-head moth has been regarded as an unwelcome omen to the homes visited by it ; and the noise of the death-watch has been affirmed to "click the hour of death." Swift ridicules the absurd superstition in the following manner: " A wood worm That lies in old wood, like a hare in her form With teeth or with claws it will bite, it will scratch, And chamber-maids christen this worm a deathwatch. - Because, like a watch, it will always cry click. Then woe he to those in the house that are sick ! For, sure as a gun, they will give up the ghost If the maggot cries click when it scratches the post. But a kettle of scalding hot-water injected, Infallibly cures the timber affected; The omen is broken, the danger is over, The maggot will die, and the sick will recover!"
The noise is produced by a species of small beetle, of the timber-boring: genus, Anobium. In the spring these insects commence their ticking, as a call to each other. They beat with their heads, and though they are very " head-strong," they are less (in the common acceptation of the term) than the people who cling to the stupid belief that their sound is a token of coming calamity.