Coleoptera: Anobiidae, Lasioderna serricorne
The cigarette beetle is one of the most common household insect pests along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast States. It can be found throughout the year, but seems to be more common in the fall and winter months. The cigarette beetle is native to Egypt. In fact, a beetle was found in King Tutankhamen's tomb! In the 3,500 years since, it has hardly changed.
The adult beetles are small, squat and oval, about 1/10 inch long, and are covered with small hairs which give them a silky, yellowish-brown color. The antennae are saw-like and the head is retracted. Many times it is mistaken for the Drugstore Beetle, when identified with the naked eye. Adults are strong fliers and prefer subdued light and temperatures over 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The adults tend to fly in late afternoons and on cloudy, overcast days.
As its name implies, the cigarette beetle is a pest of dried tobacco either in the stored, bundled form or in cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. This particular species infests tobacco wherever it is stored but is also found infesting many homes. It also feeds on the bindings and leaves of books. The larval stages of the cigarette beetle can feed on a variety of stored products including grain, cereal products, pet foods, rat and mouse baits, pasta, ginger, raisins, rice, dates, pepper, dried fish, drugs, belladonna, dried flower arrangements and seeds. The larvae have been known to feed on upholstered furniture, particularly stuffing. The adult Cigarette Beetle can also feed on pyrethrum powder that is strong enough to kill cockroaches! A serious pantry pest, their range of food makes them difficult to control. There have been larval infestations in dried flower arrangements, causing the flowers to drop or all the petals to fall.
The female produces about 100 eggs, which are deposited on or near the available food supply. These eggs then hatch within 6-10 days. The wormlike larvae are slightly smaller than the adult beetles. Larvae are creamy white except for the yellow head and brown mouth parts. Larvae become full grown in about 40 days. The entire life cycle can be completed in 45-50 days, and there may be 3-6 overlapping generations per year in warmer climates, while one generation per year might be seen in more temperate locations.
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 or frozen for 5-10 days. Clean all the cabinets and drawers with a vacuum cleaner (then throw the cleaner bag away!).
A very effective tool in controlling infestations of cigarette beetles is Methoprene, the active ingredient found in Precor. This IGR prevents immature stages of certain pantry pests (and fleas) from maturing into reproducing adults, breaking the life cycle of the pest. For more elimination tips, go to PANTRY PEST ELIMINATION. To see products used in Cigarette Beetle Elimination, go to cigarette beetle products page.
Cigarette Beetle Pheromone Traps
There are traps available for cigarette beetles that is used in commercial applications. Care should always be taken when ordering or handling insect pheromones. It is possible to over-load an area with a specific pheromone which results in insects becoming exciting but confused. If confused, they cannot locate the traps. Pheromone over-load is most often seen in the use of grain moth traps or flour moth traps due to the sheer power of moth pheromones.
Remember, the same products that pest control operators use to spray your home or business are available to you at Professional Pest Control Products, your on-line do-it-yourself pest control store!