Cigarette Beetle

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Cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles closely resemble one another, but the cigarette beetle is the more common of the two beetles.

Fast Facts

Color The adult’s body is light brown in color and the head is dark brown to tan. Their bodies are densely haired, giving them a “fuzzy” appearance.
Size Adults are 2-4 mm in length and the larvae are about 4 mm long and somewhat bent.
Appearance Its head is bent down nearly at a right angle to the body giving it a humped back appearance when viewed from the side.

Diet

The cigarette beetle feeds off tobacco, dry stored food products, spices, seeds, grains and dried plant material. They have also been reported in rice, dried potatoes, paprika, raisins, grain-based mouse bait and dried straw flowers.

Habitat

They prefer to reside in dark or dimly lit cracks, nooks and crevices. Adult beetles often wander away from infested materials and may be found throughout the area.

Life Cycle

The adult beetles live from two to four weeks and during this time the females may deposit between 10-100 eggs. The eggs are laid loosely on the infested material. The larval period usually ranges from four to five months, but under very favorable conditions the development from egg to adult may occur in six to eight weeks. When the larvae are fully grown, pupation occurs and they remain in this resting stage for 12 to 18 days.

Damage

Larval feeding causes direct damage to food and non-food items. Beetles chew through cardboard boxes, containers, and packaging causing damage. Cocoons are often attached to a solid substrate and in severe infestations form large clusters. Larvae will sometimes bore their way through cardboard boxes and other packaging in search of a place to pupate.

Signs of Infestation

Even though these stored product pests prefer to feed on tobacco products, they will attack a broad range of food items. Inspection is a must. Look in nearby food products such as pet food, seeds, seasonings, dried fruits, dried fish, ginger, pasta, dry flower arrangements, wreathes, and rodent baits. Use a magnifying glass and flashlight to help with inspection.

Prevention & Control

Cigarette Beetle Prevention

To prevent infestations, clean up spilled flour, mixes, crumbs, etc. and thoroughly vacuum and clean areas where the contaminated items were stored. Store foods in airtight glass, metal or plastic containers.

In commercial settings, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs are often implemented to control infestations at processing, distribution, and storage facilities.

Cigarette Beetle Control

Locating the source of infestation is the first and most important step. Heavily infested items should be wrapped in heavy plastic, taken outside and thrown away. All food containers and items should be checked for infestation. Cigarette beetles migrate to new materials quickly, so a complete inspection is critical. It is also crucial to vacuum and clean shelves thoroughly, paying attention to cracks and crevices and under your shelves, and around wire shelving.

If a cigarette beetle infestation occurs, count on a professional pest management service to take care of the problem knowledgeably and successfully.