Cigarette Beetles

( Lasioderma serricorne )

Characteristics

SIZE: Adult cigarette beetles are about one-eighth of an inch long.

COLOR: These beetles, sometimes called cigar beetles or tobacco beetles, are a reddish-yellow to a reddish-brown in color in their adult form. Larvae are whitish-yellow in color and are sometimes confused with grubs.

BEHAVIOR: Cigarette beetles lay their eggs inside food products and tobacco products. A female will lay 30-40 eggs, which hatch in six to 10 days. Young cigarette beetles crawl through the food as they develop into adults, and can even spread to foods stored nearby. The life cycle of these beetles is about 90 days. The eggs hatch into a worm-like state called larva. The larvae avoid light and are commonly found in dark areas, such as a pantry. Adult beetles are not usually seen outside of low-light conditions, and are strong fliers. The adult beetles drink liquids, but do not eat the products consumed by the larvae. It is not uncommon for people to confuse these beetles with the drugstore beetle, which has a similar appearance and habits.

Habitats

These beetles can be found most often in processed foods. They are also found in warehouses and facilities that handle tobacco and tobacco products and in museums. The cigar beetle is not a picky eater; it can be found in dried flours, seeds and cereals, raisins, spices and pet foods, among others. In museums it has been found inside the upholstery of antique furniture and in displays favoring plant matter. Old furniture is often stuffed with flax or other straws, and cigarette beetles will feed on this.

Tips for Control

Managing pests like these beetles can be difficult, because they feed on stored products. The first step is finding out whether or not you have an infestation and discovering the source. This requires conducting a thorough inspection of all dry goods, pet foods, spices and packaged items like granola bars. You should also check decorative items such as potpourri, strings of dried peppers and even preserved flowers. There have been cases where nuts and seeds accumulated inside walls by rodents have led to an infestation. The best way to be sure you have eliminated all likely sources of contamination is to consult with a pest management professional. In addition to the above suggestions, here are some other preventative methods you can try:

  • Throw away any contaminated or infested items in an outdoor trash can. This includes decorative items.

  • Thoroughly clean all food storage areas. Vacuum up any dirt and debris and use soap and water to clean shelving and cabinetry.

  • Any foods that are suspected of contamination should be frozen for at least six days to kill any eggs or larvae inside.

  • Invest in airtight plastic or glass containers for use in storing dried goods – including pet foods. Sealed containers will prevent the beetles from spreading to other food sources, should they infest a particular product.

  • Reorganize your pantry to display older food items up front. The longer an item goes unused or uneaten, the greater the chance of being infested by cigarette beetles.