The cigarette beetle is one of the most common household insect pests along the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast States. It can be found throughout the year, but seems to be more common in the fall and winter months. The cigarette beetle is native to Egypt. In fact, a beetle was found in King Tutankhamen’s tomb! In the 3,500 years since, it has hardly changed.
The adult beetles are small, squat and oval, about 1/10 inch long, and are covered with small hairs which give them a silky, yellowish-brown color. The antennae are saw-like and the head is retracted. Many times it is mistaken for the Drudstore Beetle, when identified with the naked eye. Adults are strong fliers and prefer subdued light and temperatures over 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The adults tend to fly in late afternoons and on cloudy, overcast days.
As its name implies, the cigarette beetle is a pest of dried tobacco either in the stored, bundled form or in cigars, cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. This particular species infests tobacco wherever it is stored but is also found infesting many homes. It also feeds on the bindings and leaves of books. The larval stages of the cigarette beetle can feed on a variety of stored products including grain, cereal products, pet foods, rat and mouse baits, pasta, ginger, raisins, rice, dates, pepper, dried fish, drugs, belladonna, dried flower arrangements and seeds. The larvae have been known to feed on upholstered furniture, particularly stuffing. The adult Cigarette Beetle can also feed on pyrethrum powder that is strong enough to kill cockroaches! A serious pantry pest, their range of food makes them difficult to control. There have been larval infestations in dried flower arrangements, causing the flowers to drop or all the petals to fall.