Cigarette Beetle

Category:

Actual Size: 2 to 3 mm

Characteristics: Small, squat beetle; shiny reddish-brown.

Habits:

  • Sometimes confused with the “drugstore” beetle.
  • Major pest of tobacco and stored food products.
  • Eggs laid directly on food to ensure larvae will have a meal once they hatch.

Overview

The cigarette beetle is found throughout the world and the United States. It is an important pest of tobacco where the eggs are laid in the folds of newly harvested, baled or bundled leaves in storage, but never on live plants in the field. Five or six generations per year may occur in warm localites, and in the U.S., three generations can occur per year. They can also be found in food storage areas and are known to chew through books, manuscripts, furniture fabrics and other organic materials.

Cigarette Beetle Habitat

Cigarette beetle adults are strong fliers and will fly on late afternoons and dull cloudy days. These beetles are active all year long and will infest storage areas or warehouses that contain dried tobacco. In the southern parts of the country, cigarette beetles may fly to homes from nearby warehouses and cause a reinfestation. They will also invade homes to feed on cereal, flour and other stored products that are a staple of most pantries.

Cigarette Beetle Behaviors, Threats or Dangers

Cigarette beetles are not considered harmful to humans or pets. Their habit of infesting people food and pet food makes them a nuisance pest. This cosmopolitan species will infest dried vegetable materials including tobacco wherever it is stored, and is the most destructive pest in stored tobacco. It is also a very serious pest of books, where it may cause injury to the binding and the leaves. If an infestation is suspected in homes, the focus will be on finding and discarding infested materials. It is particularly important to check spices, pet food, and old rodent bait.

Cigarette Beetle Prevention

To prevent a cigarette beetle infestation, remove dry pantry foods and bulk foods from original packaging and store them instead in tight-fitting containers. Clean pantry shelves regularly, and never purchase a broken or damaged package. Do not mix old and new lots of foodstuffs. If the old material is infested, the cigarette beetles will quickly invade the new. Clean out containers before filling them with fresh food, as they may be contaminated and cause a new infestation.

Keep storage units dry. This is important because moisture favors the development of cigarette beetles; dryness discourages them.