The cigarette beetle is a common stored product pest that has a history of being associated with humans dating back to Egyptian tombs. Although a tropical insect, it has a worldwide distribution considering stored products are normally kept in climate-controlled environments. It is closely related to the drugstore beetle, a temperate stored product pest with similar habits. The cigarette beetle has serrate antennae and smooth wing covers; the drugstore beetle’s antennae end in three-segmented clubs and their wing covers have pitted rows.
The cigarette beetle belongs to the Anobiid family, which also contains wood-boring beetles. Anobiid beetles have yeasts in their digestive tracts that help them consume and survive on foods with poor nutritional quality. The cigarette beetle is the most serious pest of stored tobacco, but also feeds on a wide range of plant and animal-based stored products. It can bore through plastic and cardboard, even into wood, although the latter will always be associated with a stored product.
Use pheromone traps to detect cigarette beetles when they first appear and to monitor where their population is highest to help pinpoint infestations. Heavily infested items should be discarded. Small quantities of uninfested items can be frozen at 25°F for seven days or heated in an oven at 190°F for one hour to make sure they are not infested. Large quantities in commercial settings are often fumigated. After cleaning up any spilled product, treat cracks and crevices in the infested area with an insect growth regulator and/or an insecticide that kills on contact to prevent reinfestation.