Cigarette Beetles

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Identification

  • Colour Reddish-brown
  • Size Up to to 3.5 mm long
  • Description Cigarette beetles have serrated antennae and tiny oval-shaped bodies, appearing hunched over.
  • Notes The larvae are whitish-yellow, covered in long hairs, and have three sets of strong legs.

General Facts

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.

Appearance

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.

Habitat

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.

Diet

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.

Life Cycle/Reproduction

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.

Prevention Tips

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.

Control/Removal

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.

 

Why do I have cigarette beetles?

Cigarette beetles stop feeding and reproducing at temperatures below 18° C, so survive Canadian winters by moving into warm buildings, often near areas where food is stored.

The enter your home through gaps and cracks, seeking a wide range of food, including stored tobacco, spices, nuts, vegetables, avocado, bananas, paper, silk, leather, and glue binding in books.

As well, females cigarette beetles usually look to lay their eggs in bags of stored food or on top of dried tobacco, since they make perfect food for the larvae when they emerge.

How worried should I be about cigarette beetles?

Cigarette beetles and larvae chew holes through tobacco and contaminate it with their waste, as well as biting and damaging other items like cardboard, packaging, baskets, ropes, and cloth.

These pests can also leave droppings and cocoons in rice, cereal, and spices, and will even attack medicines. Tiny larvae will crawl across books and clothes.

Female cigarette beetles can lay up to 100 eggs at a time, so a cigarette beetle infestation can quickly become serious, requiring the help of a professional pest control service.

How can I prevent cigarette beetles invading?

Declutter and vacuum living spaces, Clean up food crumbs immediately, Keep all food containers sealed, Do not keep tobacco products in the open, Do not drop tobacco on furniture or carpet, Check heat sources for cigarette beetles, Use ambient cool air to deter them

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