The cigarette beetle is a small insect – less than 1/8″ long. However, it is a serious pest of tobacco that is in storage. The cigarette beetle is also a pest of stored food products in homes, warehouses, and food processing facilities.
What Do They Look Like?
The cigarette beetle is oval-shaped. When it is viewed from above, the beetle’s head is hidden and it has a “humped” appearance.
It is light brown and has tiny holes on the back. Adult is light brown. Mature larva is white.
The cigarette beetle larva is white and grub-like. It is usually less than 1/8″ long and it usually curls into a C-shape. The larva has well-developed legs and many hairs on its body.
Cigarette beetle vs drugstore beetle
Many people confuse the cigarette beetle and the drugstore beetle. The drugstore beetle has tiny holes on its back and they are in straight rows. The holes on the cigarette beetles back are not in rows. The antennae of the two beetles are different. The cigarette beetle’s antenna has tiny ridges like teeth on a saw blade. The drugstore beetle’s antenna is straight and it ends in a club shape.
What Do They Eat?
Cigarette beetles attack almost every type of food. They have been found in dried fruits, dried vegetables, dried flowers, nuts, spices and seeds. They have been found eating book binding paste, dry dog food, and fabrics like silk and leather. Some examples include: paprika, dry dog food, beans, biscuits, chickpeas, cigars, cigarettes, cocoa beans, cottonseed, dates, dried banana, dried cabbage, dried carrot, dried fruits, drugs, flower, dried flowers, ginger, grains, herbs, peanuts, pepper, raisins, rice, yeast, furniture stuffing and even insecticides containing pyrethrum.
The adult beetle deposits eggs on the food material. When the eggs hatch, the larvae eat and grow. As they grow, the larvae shed their skins 5 or 6 times. When they are ready to change to adults, the larvae spin silken cocoons.
Control & Removal
Controlling cigarette beetles begins with a thorough inspection. It is important to find everything that the larvae are eating. Go through the pantry and the cabinets and check all of the food packages. Discard everything that is infested. Vacuum the shelves thoroughly before replacing the food on the shelves.
Inspect packages at the store. Do not buy food products in broken or torn packages. Store food in containers with lids that fit tightly.
They can be numerous enough to make plant workers miserable by their presence.
Detection & Control Checklist
1. Inspect incoming items.
2. Supply ventilation.
3. Keep buildings in good physical condition to reduce entry.
4. Quickly remove spilled grain.
5. Keep facility clean, maintain grounds.
6. Store pallets 18 inches away from walls
7. Replace torn package
8. Rotate food and nonfood stock; move out oldest stock first.
9. Identify species correctly.
10. Use light traps and/or electrocuters.
11. Fumigate if appropriate.
12. Use insect pheromone and/or baited monitoring devices.
13. Use only registered pesticides. Read entire label, and follow all directions, heeding restrictions and precautions.