The most important insect pest threat to stored tobacco is the cigarette beetle. These pests occur across the world, surviving Canadian winters by moving into heated areas like homes and other buildings. In addition to tobacco, cigarette beetles may damage stored food products and other non-food products.
Cigarette beetles have tiny oval-shaped bodies, measuring between 2 to 3.5mm in length. In profile, they appear hunched. Similar in appearance to drugstore beetles, the insects are reddish-brown in colour, with serrated antennae.
Larvae are whitish-yellow larvae, covered in long hairs, and walk thanks to three sets of strong larval legs. Larvae have prominent, brown heads with a C-shaped body as they mature.
Cigarette beetles have a wide geographical range but thrive in tropical and subtropical regions. The pests occur in all Canadian provinces. Cigarette beetle activity often occurs near areas where grains or other food is stored.
In addition to tobacco, these beetles also eat various plant products as well as animal products. Cigarette beetles consume nuts and vegetables and will even eat through avocado or unripe bananas. These pests feed on the paper and glue binding of books as well as silk & leather clothes in closets and storage chests.
The process begins when females lay up to 100 white, oval-shaped eggs within bags of stored food or atop dried tobacco. After one or two weeks, hungry larvae emerge to feed on their surroundings. Within a couple months, the larvae build cocoons and pupate, emerging as adults in about 10 days. Adults live for nearly a month.
Problems Caused by Cigarette Beetles
These pests chew holes through tobacco and contaminate it with their waste. Cigarette beetles also bite and damage other materials, such as baskets, ropes, and cloth. In addition, they can spoil spices, cereals, and rice. Cigarette beetles will attack medicines in cabinets as well, so keep prescription bottles stored away if an infestation occurs.
Detection/Signs of Infestation
Many people become aware of cigarette beetle infestations by finding dead adults on the ground or inside packaged food. The pests also appear as little moving dots on books and clothing. Droppings or cocoons in rice and cereal can signal problems, as well. Small chew marks in fabric and food packaging may indicate damage by cigarette beetles or other stored food pests.
Regularly de-cluttering and vacuuming living spaces is a good first step towards cigarette beetle prevention. Try not to tempt the pests by leaving crumbs on the ground or forgetting to close food containers. Avoid keeping tobacco products out in the open and prevent them from falling between couch cushions or onto the floor.
Sometimes it’s helpful to treat or caulk crevices and other entry points. Keep an eye on heaters, furnaces, and vents, as cigarette beetles often gather around heat sources. If an infestation occurs, try using ambient cool air to deter the pests, as cigarette beetles stop feeding and reproducing at temperatures below 18° C.
If the pests become unbearable, contact Orkin Canada for professional removal services.
Get Rid of Cigarette Beetles