Cigarette Beetle

cigarette_beetle

Overview

The cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne, is one of the most common pests of stored food. It feeds on dried dog food, dried corn, bread crumbs and many other food items. This beetle is native to Egypt and was found in the tomb of King Tutankhamen.

Identification

The adult beetle is small, reddish-brown and when viewed from above it is slightly oval with the head bent downwards. The antennae are saw-toothed and long. The wing covers are smooth without longitudinal lines. The adults are strong fliers and are often found below windows as they fly toward light.

Biology

Female adults lay up to 100 eggs. The beetle larvae do the damage to food stuffs. They are white and are covered with hairs. After about two months they pupate and emerge as adults. The adults and larvae are capable of eating through most food packaging. The most difficult aspect of cigarette beetles is their wide range of foods eaten including beans, biscuits, cigars, dates, dogfood, drugs, herbs, herbarium specimens, peanuts, rice, spices, yeast and even packing material made from dried corn.

Control

You do not need pesticides to control cigarette beetles. The first step is to find the source or sources of infestation. You will need to inspect a wide range of food items. Once found, the infested food items can be destroyed. All other potential food items should be stored in plastic, insect-proof sealed containers. If you miss one of the food items infested, the beetles will emerge inside of one of these sealed containers and not be able to spread to other foods.

In a herbarium, these beetles can feed on dried plant specimens, especially plants in the mustard family. Constant monitoring of herbarium specimens is important to minimize damage.

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