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Cigarette Beetle

Cigarette Beetle was at one time a very important pest of the tobacco industry and got it’s named from the damage it did to stored tobacco.cigarette beetle is an important pest of dried plant materials such as herbs, spices, and dried flowers.

American Spider Beetle

Cigarette Beetle

Cigarette beetles are quite small, measuring about 2 to 3 mm (about 1/8 of an inch), and are reddish brown. They have a rounded, oval shape and the head is often concealed by the pronotum when the beetle is viewed from above. The elytra (wing covers) are covered with fine hairs. When disturbed they often pull in their legs, tuck their head and lay motionless. They prefer to reside in dark or dimly lit cracks, nooks and crevices but become active and fly readily in bright, open areas, probably in an attempt to find refuge.

They are most active at dusk and will continue activity through the night. Adults do not feed but will drink liquids. Cigarette beetles look almost identical to drugstore beetles but can be distinguished by two easily identifiable characters: the antennae of the cigarette beetle are serrated (like the teeth on a saw) while the antennae of the drugstore beetle are not and end in a 3-segmented club. The other difference is that drugstore beetle elytra have rows of pits giving them a striated (lined) appearance while those of the cigarette beetle are smooth.

Cigarette Beetle

Cigarette Beetle with Larva

Life Cycle : Adult cigarette beetles live 2 to 4 weeks. Adult females lay as many as 100 eggs singly on food materials. The eggs are white and oval-shaped and hatch in 6 to 10 days. After hatching, the larvae tunnel through the food material, causing destruction of the grain and contamination.

They become fully grown in 30 to 50 days and enter the pupal stage, which lasts 8 to 10 days or more, depending on the temperature. Pupae are covered by a silken cocoon and bits of their food material. The entire life cycle may take from 45 to 50 days. The developmental period from egg to adult is quite variable, but typically takes 6 to 8 weeks under favorable conditions.

Damage : Larval feeding causes direct damage to foodstuffs and non-food items. These products are contaminated by the presence of beetles, larvae, pupae, cocoons, frass (fecal material), and insect parts. Beetles chewing through cardboard boxes and containers, and packaging cause indirect 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.

Cigarette Beetle Damage

Cigarette Beetle Damage

Control: The cigarette beetle can be controlled without the use of pesticides. The first step in control of the cigarette beetle is to find the source of the infestation. This means inspecting all of the dried foods in the infested cabinets or drawers. Once the infested material is found, it should be destroyed.

Clean all the cabinets and drawers with a vacuum cleaner (then throw the cleaner bag away). It is important that susceptible food material be stored so that adults and larvae may not have access to it. Glass jars and plastic containers with air tight covers effectively keep food insect-free. Infestations observed on food stored in either type of storage container are trapped and unable to spread to other food items.

Susceptible food items need to be tightly contained or stored in the refrigerator or freezer, or be consumed within two to three weeks of purchase. Infestations of dried flowers may be “fumigated” by placing a small amount of moth crystals and the flowers in a plastic bag for a day or two.

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