Cigarette beetles are not dangerous but they can be a nuisance. These beetles are hard to identify. They can be invading your dry food and your pantry without you even knowing.
Don’t stress; I’m here to help. In this post, I will help you identify and get rid of cigarette beetles.
Let’s get started.
What do Cigarette Beetles look like?
Cigarette Beetles are oval-shaped with a humpbacked appearance. Their heads that’s barely distinguishable from their bodies. They are reddish-brown in color. They have two antennae and are pretty strong fliers.
Size: ⅛ – 1/10 of an inch long
Color: Yellowish-brown to reddish-brown
Body: oval-shaped, with heads that are barely distinguishable from their bodies.
Why Do I Have A Cigarette Beetle Problem?
Like most pests, cigarette beetles are attracted to food, shelter, and water. So if you have a cigarette beetle problem, it’s likely that your home provides them at least one of these three things.
Cigarette beetles like to lay their eggs in places where food is easy to access. They typically like infest food pantries, targeting dry dog food, beans, dried fruits and vegetables, rice, grains, herbs, peanuts, among others.
These pests can enter your home through small cracks, crevices, and holes. They can enter through gaps in your door, holes in your window and door screens, or holes on your foundation. Cigarette beetles can also sometimes enter your home through items you bring inside, such as a rice sack.
You’ll generally find Cigarette beetles in dark, quiet places where there is easy access to food and water.
What Are The Signs Of A Cigarette Beetle Infestation?
The most obvious sign of a Cigarette beetle infestation is seeing adults crawling and flying around your home, especially in the early evening hours.
Another common sign is small holes in food packaging. Cigarette beetle’s larvae create these holes.
Cigarette beetles like to lay their eggs in places where food is easy to access. They could lay on various dried foods, including dog food, beans, dried fruits and vegetables, rice, grains, herbs, and peanuts. Once the larvae are ready to leave, they chew their way free from the packaging, leaving holes behind.
How To Get Rid of Cigarette Beetles
1. Inspect and Clean Your Pantry
If you suspect you have Cigarette Beetles, the first thing to do is to inspect your pantry or other places you store food. Look for Cigarette beetles, larvae, eggs, and cocoons.
Cigarette beetles like to lay their eggs in places where food is easy to access. They typically like to infest food packages and containers. In particular, they like targeting dry foods, such as dog food, beans, dried fruits and vegetables, rice, grains, herbs, peanuts, among others.
To get rid of Cigarette beetles, empty your pantry and inspect all the food storage and packages you have.
Cigarette beetle larvae can chew through containers, including plastic and cardboard. When they do, they leave tiny holes behind. Look for these holes to find where they are hiding.
2. Place Food Inside Airtight Containers
Cigarette beetles are attracted to food. To keep them away, make sure to eliminate their access to food.
Keep your food in airtight containers. Doing so will discourage Cigarette beetles from laying their eggs on them.
Keep in mind; Cigarette beetle larvae can chew through containers, including plastic and cardboard. So it’s best to choose thick plastic, glass or steel containers, rather than flimsy ones. Also, make sure to close your containers at all times properly.
3. Discard infested food
Discard any food packages that have holes or any sign of Cigarette Beetles. If you’re unsure which one has been infested, I recommend discarding the ones that are not properly sealed.
I also recommend discarding food that is inside cardboard, thin plastic, and paper bags. Cigarette beetle larvae can chew through containers, including plastic and cardboard. They eventually leave the container to safely dispose of anything that wasn’t properly stored against Cigarette beetles.
4. Clean Or Replace Shelf Liners
Shelf liners give Cigarette beetles an ideal shelter. In addition, these liners can accumulate food and moisture, providing the Beatles with food and water. As such, you can generally see Cigarette beetles, eggs, and larvae on them.
To get rid of Cigarette beetles, clean or replace your liners. If you have re-usable liners, I recommend washing them with hot water and bleach. Doing so will ensure that you kill all the eggs and larvae on it.
5. Use Traps
Another way you can get rid of Cigarette Beetles is with traps.
For this, I recommend either using a pheromone trap or use a sticky moth trap. Both these traps should work on adult Cigarette Beetles and their larvae.
Place these traps where the Cigarette Beetles live and travel—the best place for this in your pantry and inside cabinets where you store food. Use the traps until they no longer catch any beetles.
Keep in mind that traps are best used in conjunction with the other tips in this article. They’re most effective with proper cleaning and storage of food.
6. Clean Frequently And Thoroughly
Ensure you clean your kitchen, pantry, and anywhere you store food well.
For thorough cleaning, consider using hot water, essential oil, or bleach.
Adding these to your cleaning routine will eliminate all the bacteria caused by Cigarette Beetles.
For easy cleaning, I recommend using a spray bottle. Mix water and bleach or water and oil inside, then spray on infested areas.
Pro Tip: Don't Use Insecticides
Cigarette Beetles generally hide where you store food.
To prevent toxicity, avoid using insecticides in these areas, particularly the ones that have residual effects.
While insecticides, such as mothballs, effectively eliminate the beetles, they can be highly toxic.
So overall, it’s best to leave these insecticides alone and stick with natural treatments when it comes to Cigarette Beetles.
How Serious Are Cigarette Beetles?
Unlike many pests, Cigarette Beetles don’t carry any known pathogens. Therefore, they are not dangerous in terms of biting and spreading disease.
That said, large Cigarette Beetles infestations come with an equally large economical cost. In addition, they can contaminate food in commercial areas, such as food processing facilities and restaurants.
In households, Cigarette Beetles infestations contaminate food and may destroy certain household items. They can eat through cardboard, paper, books, furniture stuffing, silk, and leather, among others. In addition, cigarette Beetles can lay up to 100 eggs at a time. As such, having a small group can quickly escalate into large damages in your home.
What Do Cigarette Beetles Eat?
In particular, they like targeting dry foods, such as cereal, pet food, beans, grains, seeds, herbs, peanuts, dried fruit, and vegetables, among others.
Do Cigarette Beetles Bite?
No. Cigarette Beetles do not bite or transmit any known diseases. The damage they cost is mainly through food contamination and the destruction of household items.
Where do cigarette beetles lay eggs?
Cigarette Beetles like to lay their eggs in dark, quiet places where there is easy access to food and water.
They typically like infest food pantries, targeting dry dog food, beans, dried fruits and vegetables, rice, grains, herbs, peanuts, among others.
In general, Cigarette Beetles look for unsealed food items, where their larvae can have access to food and water effortlessly.
Are Cigarette Beetles Attracted To Light?
Adult cigarette beetles are attracted to light. You can typically find these beetles swarming porch lights when they are outside. Other stages of the cigarette beetle, such as the larva are not attracted to light. The opposite is the case, the larvae will tend to seek out dark, damp, and sheltered locations.
How long does a cigarette beetle live?
Adult cigarette beetles typically live around 1 month long.
The larva of the cigarette beetle typically live between 15 and 20 days.
The full lifecycle of the cigarette beetle is typically between 30 and 90 days depending on the conditions.
Harsher conditions such as low humidity and high temperatures can extend their life because they take longer to move from one stage to the next.
Cigarette Beetle Life Cycle
Adult cigarette beetles typically live around one month long. During this time, they typically focus on trying to reproduce and expanding their population.
They can lay around 100 eggs at a time, and they can experience this cycle up to three times per year.
After laying the eggs, they typically hatch in one to two weeks. Then, they remain in the larvae stage for two to three weeks long.
After consuming dry foods, the cigarette beetle will prepare for pupating. Depending on the conditions, this can take between two and three weeks. Finally, once the cigarette beetle pupates, they emerge as adults, and the cycle starts over.