There are many different kinds of wood destroying beetles, but probably the most common and most destructive is the Powderpost Beetle, actually a group of similar beetles. The adults mate, and the female lays eggs in cracks and crevices on the wood. Shortly, the larvae hatch out, and burrow into the wood, feeding on it as they tunnel through. When finished growing, the larvae tunnel close to the surface, and pupate. When the adult hatches out, they chew to the surface, mate, the adults die, and the larvae tunnel into the wood after they hatch, and the cycle repeats itself. Powderpost beetles are second only to termites in destuction of wood and wood products. They can actually be built right into a structure by using infected wood during construction, and are sometimes brought into structures with firewood.
Powder post beetle
Typical powderpost beetle damage. Damage may be old and inactive unless accompanied by Frass (sawdust) which will accumulate under the holes, that has the consistency of talcum powder.
Death Watch Beetle
There is one other wood destroying beetle, the Death Watch Beetle, that is fairly common, but only feeds on wood already destroyed by rot fungus. What is interesting is how it got it's name. When they are ready to mate, the male hits his head on the wood inside it's tunnel, and makes a clicking noise. Back in Colonial times, when someone died, and people had wakes, they were normally held in their homes. As people sat there very quietly, the clicking could be heard in the beams of the house, and thus got the name "Death Watch Beetle". It is said that an essay written by Henry David Thoreau about these beetles, was the stimulus for Edgar Allen Poe to write "The Tell Tale Heart".