What are Cigarette Beetles?
The cigarette beetle-derived its name from eating on stored tobacco. These pests could cause huge financial losses and damaged crops within the tobacco industry. This type of beetle breeds fast and contaminates most types of dried plant products.
Cigarette beetles are scientifically known as lasioderma serricorne. These pests are also known as cigar beetles or tobacco beetles. They may be commonly seen in stored tobacco bales or refined tobacco products like cigarette packs, chewing tobacco or cigars.
While cigarette beetles mainly prefer to eat tobacco, they feed on spices, herbs, dried flowers and several dried plant materials too.
How To Identify Cigarette Beetles
An adult cigarette beetle is reddish-yellow or brownish red in color. These tiny pests are oval shaped and measures around one to three millimeters. Nearly at about 90-degree angle, the beetle’s head is bent down which projects a humped appearance when viewed from the side. On its head, two antennae are sticking out to the sides with the same thickness from base to tip. Like any other beetle, these insects are strong fliers.
The larvae of this pest are colored yellowish white and appear like a grub. When full-grown, its length could measure from two to three millimeters.
The Life Cycle Of The Cigarette Beetle
On average, the life span of an adult beetle is for two to four weeks. An adult female beetle can deposit around 100 eggs. The oval-shaped eggs are white in color. The eggs are laid on the infested food materials and will then hatch in approximately six to ten days. By the time the larvae hatched, it will begin damaging and contaminating food materials by tunneling through them, feeding on the infested food as they go. At around 30 to 50 days, the beetles will be on its pupal stage and will be considered fully-grown. Depending on the temperature in the surroundings, the pupal stage lasts for about eight to ten days. The pupae are enveloped in a silken cocoon along with bits of their food material.
Depending on the environmental conditions, a cigarette beetle’s life cycle may take 45 to 50 days. If the temperature gets cooler, the development slows down and will stop when the temperature goes below 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Signs of a Cigarette Beetle Infestation
If not inspected thoroughly, the larvae could not be easily seen since it burrows into their food. If you spot a cigarette beetle, this is most likely on their adult stage.
Stored grains, flour, spices, rice, raisins, ginger, pepper, seeds, cereals, dry pet foods and dried flower arrangements are what cigarette beetles typically infest since both adults and larvae are omnivores. If you see holes in packaging with a little amount of debris coming out of the package, most likely there is an infestation. These holes are brought about by the adult beetles that makes their way out of the package. The debris is pushed out through the holes when the larvae inside continue to consume and infest the food materials.
On cases where these pests infested a compacted place that they have little room to move, spots of charcoal colored sand around the packaging may appear from the droppings of a cigarette beetle.