Facts, Identification & Control
Lasioderma serricorne (Fabricius)
The cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne (Fabricius), gets its name from attacking stored tobacco. It is a stored product pest throughout the world. The adult beetle is a small insect (2 to 3 mm). It is usually light brown. The head is bent down and barely visible from above. This gives the beetle a rounded or “humped” appearance.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
The adult beetles are strong fliers. They are very active in subdued light. They fly readily in late afternoon and on cloudy days. Cigarette beetles “play dead” for a few seconds when they are disturbed.
The female beetle lays her eggs in or on the food material. These beetles infest a wide variety of products, including pet food, flour, cereal, spices and pasta. They have also infested books, dried flowers, spices, leather, silk, old rodent bait and even museum specimens. In homes, spices and dry pet food are very common foods for cigarette beetles.
The larvae eat and grow. They spin a cocoon when it is time to change into adults. The entire life cycle, from egg to reproducing adult takes 30 to 90 days. Development slows in cooler temperature and stops below 65°F.
Cigarette Beetle Larvae
Signs of Cigarette Beetle Infestation
The most visible signs of cigarette beetles are the adults, holes in packaging and debris coming out of packages. Adults are active fliers and are observed as small brown beetles. As they exit from infested materials, they often chew their way free, which leaves holes in the packaging. As the larvae continue to feed, fine particles of debris come from the packaging.
Controlling cigarette beetles in homes begins with a thorough inspection. Since these beetles can feed on such a variety of products, it is important to find all infested items. Discard any food that is infested. Since these beetles can infest so many types of products, inspect thoroughly. There may be several infested products.
Use a vacuum to clean the shelves of all pantries and cabinets where food is stored. Vacuuming will remove food residue. Store new food products in sealed glass or plastic containers.
Insecticide application is the final step. It should be applied into the cracks and crevices—behind the pantry shelves and behind baseboards. The object is to eliminate adult beetles that have dispersed from the infested materials. If the treatment misses any beetles, they can re-infest quickly. For that reason, it is usually advisable to have a pest control professional do this treatment.