- CIGARETTE BEETLE BIOLOGY
- WHEN CIGARETTE BEETLES ARE FIRST NOTICED
- HOW TO TREAT A CIGARETTE BEETLE PROBLEM
- FIRST TREAT ALL CRACKS AND CREVICES
- FOR LARGE PROBLEMS, LIQUID TREAT INFESTED ROOMS
- CIGARETTE BEETLE TRAPS
- CONTACT US
Cigarette Beetles are small – about 1/8th of an inch long – and appear to be oval or almost square in shape. They are most likely to be a shiny reddish brown color and closely resemble a drugstore beetle. But they are quite different in what they target for food and where they will nest. In general, cigarette beetles are more likely to be found anywhere in the home whereas drugstore beetles are more likely to be in the kitchen or pantry.
To a trained eye, the use of a small magnifying glass or microscope will reveal the easiest way to tell if you have a cigarette beetle. The tell tale clue will be found with their antennae. Drugstore beetles have antennae which have a distinctive three segmented club up top where the tobacco beetle has a serrated antennae which is uniform from top to bottom (where it mounts on the insects head). The following video shows a cloth doll infested with cigarette beetles.
CIGARETTE BEETLE BIOLOGY ^
Though cigarette beetles love tobacco, they will thrive on just about any “food” grade material they find. Cigarette beetles will readily eat books, furniture, stored dried plants, canvas paintings, anything made of straw, just about any spice, cookies, flour, pasta, cotton, medicine, dog food and even rat poison!
Cigar collectors dread the tobacco beetle; hobbyist who like to make wreathes and other natural creations will undoubtedly have to contend with this menace. Though cigarette beetles will crawl while feeding, adults like to fly which makes them particularly hard to handle. Its not uncommon to have them fly into your home during the spring or summer and once inside, make themselves a permanent unwanted guest. At the end of the day, it serves no purpose to try and determine how or why you got them – the list of reasons will quickly become too large to handle. The good news is they can be controlled so regardless of how they got in the home, there is no need to panic.
HOW MANY EGGS WILL CIGARETTE BEETLES LAY? ^
Once cigarette beetles get inside a home, females will lay eggs where they expect their young to acquire good food. They will typically lay 50-100 eggs over a period of 1-2 months. After that they will abruptly die. Eggs will hatch in 7-14 days and the newly born larva will immediately feed on anything they find that will provide nutrition. Larvae will usually feed for 5-10 weeks depending on how much food they have access to, the local humidity and temperature range.
THE NEXT STAGE..
Once larvae feed and get their fill, they’ll spin a cocoon and undergo metamorphosis for another 2-3 months. Eventually they’ll emerge as full blown adults ready to mate and lay eggs. In most regions of the country, they will be able to complete two or three cycles per year. This means if one pregnant female enters your home in the spring, you could conceivably have 5,000-10,000 adults flying around by the end of the year!
WHEN CIGARETTE BEETLES ARE FIRST NOTICED ^
In most situations, homeowners are not quite sure what they have when it comes to a cigarette beetle. When the first few are discovered, they will usually clean the suspected room where they emerged hoping to rid their home of this annoying pest. Though a good vacuuming won’t hurt and certainly will help to remove some eggs, larva and pupae, there are simply too many parts of their cycle that can be remaining following your effort. And the remaining eggs and pupae will quickly replace that which you previously removed so for all practical purposes, vacuuming will not control the problem.
FREEZING CIGARETTE BEETLES WON’T STOP THE PROBLEM!
A common trick we have heard many people try is to freeze the food or other items the beetles are infesting. This is another futile effort which is just a waste of time. Though freezing will kill active adults and larva, the eggs and pupa will simply remain in tact. In fact they can survive these conditions for many months. This means you will have to keep items frozen indefinitely if you expect to break their cycle and you will have to have access to a large freezer since it is very likely they are into many things throughout the home that will need to be frozen!
OTHER FACTS ABOUT CIGARETTE BEETLES ^
Cigarette beetles are great flyers. They readily live outside and fly all over during the warm summer months. Its during this time when they’ll enter homes through open doors and windows. This is probably the most common way household problems start and seem to be very common routes of entry to homes which are close to agricultural areas, farms or processing plants that store food.
Cigarette beetles are hardy. They can survive hot and cold quite well. Once in the home, they’ll remain active through the whole year. Don’t sit back expecting them to “die out” when it gets cold – this won’t happen. You’ll need to take a “pro-active stance” to get control of any cigarette beetle problem as soon as its been identified.
Cigarette beetles will migrate to new food supplies quickly. If you have pantry items like spices or old beans and you don’t know if it they’re harboring beetles, you can place it in a clear plastic bag and store to see. After 2-3 weeks, take it out and see if there are beetles accumulating in the bag outside the food. If you find any insect, discard the item immediately. Don’t be discouraged if you find them active in most of your pantry – this is actually quite normal. If you have a room where you store dried flowers, wreathes, Christmas ornaments or other decorations and suspect they may be active in there, you’re probably right. There are many natural foods used in the construction of these decorations and cigarette beetles are quick to take advantage of this resource.
In summary, the best way to keep cigarette beetle infestations under control is to stop them from entering your home in the first place. This means keeping screens on windows but remember that since most smells are sure to attract flying adults, your home will be effectively attracting them when windows and doorways allow air to exit.
HOW TO TREAT A CIGARETTE BEETLE PROBLEM ^
As tough as cigarette beetles can be to control, understanding the treatment process involved is key to getting control of local infestations. Here is a quick summary of what’s involved with more details below.
- After the infested area has been cleaned, you’ll need to treat with either the aerosols we list or the concentrates (or both if the infestation is throughout the home). Aerosols will be fine for small areas like pantries and most any kitchen cabinet. But if your cigarette beetle infestation is extensive, the concentrates are better suited. Use them for carpeting, warehouses or storage areas with a lot of cabinets and/or floor space.
- Next, install traps. These should be used in virtually any situation. First, they help monitor activity alerting you to where beetles are entering, which rooms they are most active in and times of the year when adults are hatching. However, they can really help at breaking the cycle since every adult they trap is one less which can mate and propagate.
FIRST TREAT ALL CRACKS AND CREVICES ^
For small areas or if you don’t know where the problem is focused, ALPINE AEROSOL can be a life saver. It won’t chase or repel active beetles. It won’t kill them quickly either but this is by design. So as active beetles forage over the Alpine, they’ll pick up small amounts and in turn, share it with others. 2-3 days later they’ll all die and the problem can be resolved without having to know where they’re originating from.
When treating food or dish storage cabinets, be sure to remove everything first. Next, vacuum thoroughly. After treating, wait at least 15 minutes following treatment before you replace the contents and be sure all surfaces are dry.
Be sure to treat all cracks and crevices around throughout any room you find with activity. Cigarette beetles like to forage around a lot so in most cases, treating as much of the home as needed is best. Don’t expect to see dead bugs for 2-3 days but once the treatment starts to work, they’ll all be dead within 1-2 weeks. Just be sure to treat 4 weeks later to get any hatching larvae from eggs that hadn’t hatched yet.
FOR LARGE PROBLEMS, LIQUID TREAT INFESTED ROOMS
If there is a large area that needs to be sprayed, go with liquids which are more cost effective compared to aerosols. A good active to use is DEFENSE SC. This is a low odor concentrate which is mixed with water and applied using a good PUMP SPRAYER. Defense will work on hatching larvae up to a month. Again, this is critical for breaking the cycle.
Use this spray when you have a lot of baseboard, furniture, components like straw, fabric and other natural fibers that need protection. Defense is labeled for use on just about any surface and won’t stain or smell so it’s a great product to use for a lot of applications. Its particularly helpful when you want to store ornaments, wreathes or other items made from something natural which cigarette beetles like to eat. Lightly mist them, allow them to dry and then you can safely wrap them up for storage. Such applications will last a long time – especially when stored in boxes or bags protected from direct sunlight.
Mix .75 oz per gallon of water and use the mixed solution to treat 800-1000 sq/ft of carpeting, baseboards, area rugs, furniture, etc. Cigarrette beetles will take advantage of a wide range of fabric found in most any home so if you’re finding them randomly throughout the home, liquid treatments will be required to knock them out for good.
To apply the D-Fense, use a good pump sprayer that can “fan” spray a wide pattern.
To insure you break their cycle, add GENTROL IGR to the same tank mix with the Defense.
Gentrol is odorless, can be mixed with the Defense and will prevent eggs from becoming adults.Essentially a protein, Gentrol over exposes cigarette beetle larvae to their own hormone which in turn causes them to “stall” and die before pupating. Gentrol hs the added benefit of translocating after its applied. This means it will effectively “move” about the treated room and get to all other areas where you don’t spray. This is important since you can’t spray everything but if using Gentrol, it won’t matter. The end result is that you’ll have it move about the infested area automatically thus insuring a complete treatment is accomplished.
Add 1 bottle of Gentrol per 1 gallon of tank mix and use it once a month until the problem is gone.
CIGARETTE BEETLE TRAPS ^
Lastly, once you’ve sprayed and allowed the treatment to dry, set up several CIGARETTE BEETLE TRAPS. These are pheromone based traps which lure adult beetles by using natural sex scent. Once they fly inside the trap, they’ll get stuck on the sticky glue inside.
Traps should be set in any room where activity has been seen or suspected. One trap will cover 200 sq/ft and should be located high since a higher placement will generally allow the pheromones to permeate throughout the room.
Pheromone traps work great at catching cigarette beetles and most any processing plant or home with this beetle should have some traps to help monitor the activity. This way if there is a room with activity which wasn’t treated you’ll know to take action.
In summary, cigarette beetles can be persistent and tough to control. If you’re seeing one or two around the home, don’t wait till eggs get a chance to develop into adults. Set out traps now to see how bad things might be. And if the traps start catching one or two a week, you’ll need to start treatments ASAP.
Use Alpine aerosol if you only have a room or two needing treatment; go with the liquid mixtures if you have a problem throughout the home and need to cover a lot of area economically. A combination of spray nd traps will kill developing larva and reproducing adults so eventually, you’ll get rid of the problem for good.
CONTACT US ^
Give us a call if you need further help. Our toll free is 1-800-877-7290 and we’re open Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. On Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and on Saturday, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM (Eastern Standard Time).
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