Commonly confused with the related Drugstore Beetle, the Cigarette Beetle has distinct striations on its wing covers. Cigarette Beetles, as their name indicates, are a common stored product pest of tobacco products; however, they are also common in other dried plant materials including dried fruits, grains, herbs, spices and dried flowers. These beetles are also known to consume rodenticides and have even been noted to feed on pyrethrum powders that are strong enough to kill cockroaches.
Reddish-yellow to brownish-red in color, adult beetles are approximately 2-3 mm in length. Their head is positioned at a right angel to the remainder of their body which causes them to have a hump backed appearance. Aside from the striations on their wing covers, Cigarette Beetles can be differentiated from Drugstore Beetles by examining their antennae which are the same thickness from base to tip. Adult Cigarette Beetles live 2-4 weeks during which the females lay up to 100 eggs in a single manner on food material. Eggs are oval in shape and white in color. They hatch in roughly 6 to 10 days. The grub-like larvae are off white to yellowish in color with a brown head capsule. Three sets of fore-legs are present and when fully grown are 1/10th of an inch in length. Upon hatching, the larvae are responsible for destruction of the food material as they tunnel their way through the food consuming and contaminating the product as they grow. Larvae reach maturity in 30 to 50 days and enter the pupal stage in which they cover themselves in a silken cocoon and pieces of their food. Pupal stages last an average of 8-10 days; however, depending on temperature this stage may be prolonged. Egg to adult life cycles are varied, but commonly take 6-8 weeks if completed in favorable conditions.
As with other stored product pests, the main priority in management of an infestation is to identify and remove infested items. A thorough cleaning of the area should be completed as products are eliminated. Products that are not found to be infested should be stored in air tight containers including both opened and unopened products. Insecticides registered for use in homes and labeled for use in Cigarette Beetle infestations may be used in cracks and crevices. As with all insecticides, labels should be followed and should only be used in a safe manner. When in doubt, always contact a pest control professional.