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Cigarette Beetle

General Facts

Cigarette beetle, (tobacco beetle), is very similar in appearance to the drugstore beetle and as indicated by its common name, it’s a pest of tobacco products, but it can also infest a variety of stored products such as oil seeds, cereals, dried fruit, sage, flour, cocoa beans, coffee beans, copra, coriander, cottonseed, and some animal products. It will also infest paprika, chili, and dried dog food. Both adults and larvae are capable penetrating many types of packaging material to reach their food source.

The adult cigarette beetle is a small, stout, oval, reddish-yellow or brownish-red beetle about 0.1 inch (2-3 mm) long. The head is bent down at nearly a right angle to the body, giving the beetle a humped appearance when viewed from the side. Unlike those of the drugstore beetle, the wing covers are not striated, and the antennae are the same thickness from base to tip. Cigarette beetle larvae are yellowish-white and grub-shaped, with three sets of forelegs and a brown head capsule. Cigarette beetle larvae are hairier than those of the drugstore beetle. The larvae are about 0.1 inch long when fully grown.

 

Damage

This is the most important insect pest of stored tobacco. Package and chewing tobaccos, cigars, and cigarettes that have been attacked by cigarette beetles have holes eaten through the tobacco. Cigarette beetle adults and larvae also are omnivorous pests of other stored products. They can be found in stored grains, where they feed on debris or dead insects and damage the grain. Their main impact in households is on stored commodities, such as spices, rice, ginger, raisins, pepper, drugs, seeds, and dried flower arrangements. They even feed on pyrethrum powder strong enough to kill cockroaches.

 

Control

Prevention and exclusion are the principal methods of controlling cigarette beetles in the home. Focus on identifying and destroying infested materials. In addition to the above-mentioned items, cigarette beetles also can be found infesting dried pet foods, old rodent baits, and flax tow stuffing in upholstered furniture. Thoroughly clean the area where the infestation was noted and apply an insecticide registered for in-home use into cracks and crevices. Exclusion is an important way of limiting the exposure of other commodities to infestation. Place pantry items in airtight hard plastic containers, including unopened items such as cake mixes, which can be infested without exhibiting outward signs of infestation.