The cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne, also known as the tobacco beetle, is pest of stored products. Stored-product pests are responsible for tremendous damage and economic losses to post-harvest and stored grains and seeds, packaged food products and animal and plant derived items and commodities. The cigarette beetle is a commonly encountered stored-product pest in the home and has long been associated with humans.
Female cigarette beetles lay about 30 eggs in a period of 3 weeks. Eggs hatch in 6 to 10 days. The larval stage lasts from 5 to 10 weeks with larvae shunning light. The pupal and prepupal periods last 2 to 3 weeks and are passed in a cell. The life cycle lasts from 70 to 90 days, and there may be 5 to 6 overlapping generations per year in warm localities with only one generation in the more temperate regions. Adults are strong flyers and active in subdued light at temperatures above 65 degrees F. Adult beetles may live from 23 to 28 days. In warehouses, the life cycle may be completed in 52 days.
Damage and Signs of Infestation
Besides being the most damaging pest of stored tobacco, the cigarette beetle also is a major pest of many stored food products including flours, dry mixes, dried fruits such as dates and raisins, cereals, cocoa, coffee beans, herbs, spices, nuts, rice, dry dog food and other products kept in kitchen cabinets, pantries and other areas in the home. Non-food products that it infests include dried plants and herbarium specimens, dried floral arrangements, potpourri, prescription drugs and pills, medicinal herbs, pinned insects, furniture stuffing, and bookbinding paste. However, they do not infest wood. Larval feeding causes direct damage to foodstuffs and non-food items. These products are contaminated by the presence of beetles, larvae, pupae, cocoons, frass (fecal material), and insect parts. Beetles chewing through cardboard boxes and containers, and packaging cause indirect damage.
Control and Management
The simplest and most effective control measure is to locate the source of infestation and quickly get rid of it. Use a flashlight or other light source to examine all food storage areas and food products carefully. Dispose of heavily infested foods in wrapped, heavy plastic bags or in sealed containers for garbage disposal service. Large-scale control for severe infestations can be achieved by fumigating. Residual insecticides can be applied to cracks, crevices and shelves in storage areas after removal of stored products.