Although you may not realize it, the cigarette beetle is one of the most common pests to infiltrate our homes. Also referred to as pantry pests, these small reddish-brown shelled beetles are usually found in stored household commodities like spices and flour—items most homeowners have in their kitchen. Cigarette beetles get their name because they also feed on chewing tobacco, cigars, cigarettes and dried tobacco leaves. While it makes sense to find these creatures in your kitchen, can you find a cigarette beetle in the bedroom?
Yes, unfortunately, this beetle can be anywhere and will feed on items we don’t even consider food, including leather, dried flowers, books and even silk. Although this pest has such a funny name, homeowners find dealing with cigarette beetles is no laughing matter. While no one wants pests in their home feeding on our spices, pasta and cereal, both the cigarette beetle and the drugstore beetle are quite common.
So, now that we know that we can find a cigarette beetle in the places we sleep, let’s learn more about whether the cigarette beetle or the drugstore beetle bite and how to compare the cigarette beetle vs drugstore beetle. Then, we’ll discuss what is probably your top priority: how to get rid of cigarette and drugstore beetles.
Does the Cigarette Beetle Bite?
Some of the most hated pests which find their way into our homes—bed bugs and mosquitoes—have a reputation because they bite. What about the cigarette beetle?
While cigarette beetles don’t bite or carry diseases, these pests can find their way into homeowners’ hair and clothing. The main damage from this pest, however, is when a cigarette beetle comes into contact with your food. If you open your pantry and think you see a few dead insects, check again later. These beetles are known to lie still for a few seconds when seen, but are active and even fly in an area with dim light, unlike drugstore beetles, which are attracted to light.
Although small in size—only up to about 1⁄8 inch long—cigarette beetles can cause widespread damage if ignored. Although cigarette beetles only live two to four weeks once they reach the adult stage, the females can lay up to 100 eggs over a six to ten day period in crevices, folds or depressions in their food, making them even harder to eradicate.
After about a week, these eggs hatch. These newly-minted beetles tend to tunnel down into whatever items that have been infested, which is usually a pantry staple. In six to eight weeks, you could be sharing your home with more than 100 cigarette beetles which have hatched and are searching for anything to sink their teeth into. When you first see these beetles, take prompt action to protect your home from these prolific pests.
Within 30 to 50 days, the larvae are grown and enter into the pupal stage for 8 to 10 days, depending on the temperature. The pupae are covered in a silk cocoon.
Adult cigarette beetles tend to eat their way through boxes, so check for holes in your pantry supplies if you suspect you may have a cigarette beetle infestation. You may also notice damage on books, dried flower arrangements, wreaths and stuffed furniture.
Can A Drugstore Beetle Bite?
Like the cigarette beetle, the drugstore beetle doesn’t bite humans. When this pest’s normal food source is not available, drugstore beetles are happy to eat whatever is nearby, including dried flower arrangements, grains and many other sources of human nourishment. Although homeowners have to worry about these pests too, commercial food operations are more at risk for infestations. Bakeries, flour mills and other food storage facilities tend to have problems with this variety of beetle. In addition to feeding on prescription drugs, the drugstore beetle enjoys sweets, spices, bread, cookies, flour, chocolate, wood, wool, aluminum foil and other items.
Female drugstore beetles lay up to 75 eggs at a time, which happens most often in and around stored food products. For 20 weeks, drugstore beetle eggs tunnel through whatever substance they were born in—most likely food or grain—before entering the pupal stage for 12 to 18 days. After that phase is complete, cigarette beetles become adults and live between 13 and 65 days. These pests prefer tropical climates, with temperatures around 85 degrees and high humidity.
When feeding, drugstore beetles produce and deposit a type of yeast that contains B vitamins. This substance is later consumed by the larvae, which is one of the ways our food becomes contaminated.
Cigarette Beetle vs Drugstore Beetle
Few homeowners can tell the difference between cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles. Many of us rely on pest professionals to differentiate between these two household pests. Click here for images of a cigarette beetle and here for photos of drugstore beetles to see how similar these pests are.
While a cigarette beetle is most commonly associated with areas where tobacco products are stored, a drugstore beetle prefers to raid medicine cabinets. This type of beetle first got its common name from feeding on herbal extracts and remedies.
Although both beetles take a special liking to herbs and spices, if their favorite food is not around, they will take what they can get, which is usually some kind of food in your pantry.
Cigarette beetles have smooth wings and serrated antennal segments, whereas the drugstore beetle’s wing covers are grooved and their antennae are clubbed. The cigarette beetle’s head is bent downward, which makes it appear hunchbacked if you see the pest from the side. The hairs which cover larval cigarette beetles are more visible and longer than on a drugstore beetle larva.
Thankfully, homeowners can take some simple steps to get rid of both of these pervasive pests.
How to Get Rid of Cigarette and Drugstore Beetles
Don’t let tightly closed or even unopened food boxes fool you, since cigarette and drugstore beetles are infamous for their ability to escape, showing up seemingly untouched. While dark spaces, crevices and cracks should be the first places to check for cigarette beetles, if you see one, there are most likely more that are unseen and lurking in other places. Inspect inside these potential locations that you might initially have overlooked where these beetles can live:
- Pet food bags
- Tobacco products
- Furniture stuffing
- Laundry room
- Flower arrangements
While the pantry is the natural habitat for these critters, cigarette and drugstore beetles can just as easily be found in bedrooms, bathrooms or living rooms. Not only does this beetle feed on the seemingly inedible, but also this pest can eat its way through wood and cardboard to get to a food source.
When attempting to prevent an infestation, substitute either glass containers or thicker, heavy plastic for your original containers. Wipe down all your counters and pantry and kitchen shelves to remove any food debris that might attract them. Throw out any items that were previously infested. When a small bit of pet food is contaminated, some homeowners place it in a sealable bag and put in the freezer for either 16 days at 36°F, 7 days at 25°F or 32°F for four to seven days. You can also put food in the oven at 190°F for one hour or 120°F for 16 to 24 hours to ensure any potential infestation is controlled.
Eliminating cigarette beetles can be tricky, which is one reason these insects are such common pests. Unfortunately, these stubborn beetles are known to feed on ingredients found in insect baits and insecticides called pyrethrum powder which is strong enough to kill cockroaches. So while you may think that simple pesticides you see advertised are your best solution, a sprinkle of poison might actually just be feeding the pests more than controlling them. Seek the advice from a qualified pest control expert to completely rid your home of these intruders and provide you with you with tips for future control and prevention, which might include:
- Keeping pantry items in airtight containers.
- Sealing pet food.
- Throwing out old rodent baits.
- Cleaning up crumbs and spills immediately.
- Keeping your containers dry.
- Using a vacuum to pick up all loose bits of food that can re-attract the pest.
Other Pests That Contaminate Your Food
Other beetles, such as the confused flour and red flour beetles, also snack on stored food such as flour, cereals, crackers, pasta, spices, dried pet food, dried flowers and more. Like the cigarette and drugstore beetles, they don’t bite or sting, but can do a lot of damage to stored food.
In addition to worrying about beetles infesting your food, mites can also infest your pantry. The grain or flour mite will show up in the form of the “dust” this minuscule pest leaves behind on your pantry shelves. As you might expect, grain mites like flour, cereal and other grains. It will also come as no surprise that the cheese mite attacks cheeses. In some cases, these mites give certain cheeses their flavor. Mold mites just feed on mold, so if you have these pests, you have a bigger problem than just your pest infestation.
Rats and mice will also raid your pantry, clothes, books, pet food and electrical wiring, as well as your garbage in search of food. Contrary to popular belief, mice don’t just like cheese. In fact, some homeowners have more luck putting bread with peanut butter or a candy bar on a mouse trap.
The dreaded cockroach, of course, also loves to eat your food. While roaches love lots of things, including your books and soap, they also like starchy and greasy foods, sweets and meat.
All of these pests can infest and infiltrate your home quickly because of their reproduction cycles. Just one female roach and her offspring can produce 30,000 roaches in one year. Not only is that mind-boggling, but it is also disgusting. Rats are in heat every week and can produce six to 12 babies per litter. Unfortunately, it’s not just pantry pests who are raiding your kitchen, bedrooms and the other parts of your home.
ABC Can Solve Your Pest Problems
When it comes to common household pests, many of us throw up our hands in defeat, since these creatures are often difficult to control without the help of a pest professional. Homeowners have been trusting the pros at ABC Home & Commercial Services for decades to identify pest problems and to work on treatment plans to get rid of pests, for good. With ABC’s help, you won’t have to worry about pests and you can focus on spending quality time in your home.