About 1/10 of an inch
The cigarette beetle has an oval shape and its head is not visible from above. This beetle looks very similar to a drugstore beetle, but can be distinguished by serrated antenna (like teeth on a saw) and its smooth wing covers that lack the puncture marks found on a drugstore beetle.
Both the cigarette and drugstore beetle belong to a family of wood-boring beetles known as Anobiidae and can be confused with species that infest items made of wood. If a beetle is found in association with food products, it is likely the cigarette or drugstore beetle. If not, you may want to have a professional examine the beetles to obtain a positive identification.
The female cigarette beetle lays 30-40 eggs over a period of weeks in a stored tobacco or dried food product. The eggs hatch within six to 10 days and the larvae begin crawling throughout the food source while feeding. The larvae prefer the dark and take about 5 to 10 weeks before pupating. The entire life cycle takes up to 90 days to complete with up to six overlapping generations occurring each year in warm climates. This shorter life cycle permits a faster development of cigarette beetle populations, facilitating the spread of cigarette beetles to uninfested food products stored nearby.
This beetle is an external feeder, meaning the larvae develop outside of whole seeds. It is most commonly associated with processed foods of all kinds. Adult beetles are strong fliers most commonly seen in low light conditions. This beetle can be found throughout the year, but is especially common during the fall and winter.
As its name implies, the cigarette beetle is a pest of dried tobacco in tobacco warehouses and processing facilities. Interestingly, this beetle is not commonly found infesting stored cigarettes or cigars in stores or Homes. It will infest a wide variety of food products and is common in pet food, cereals, nuts, dried peppers, spices, raisins, seeds and dried straw flours. Cigarette beetle larvae have also been found to feed on the stuffing inside upholstered furniture. The cigarette beetle is also a major pest in museums, where it attacks botany displays and other artifacts of vegetative origin.
The control of any stored product pest involves many steps, primary of which is discovery of infested food items or other sources of infestation (e.g., food spillage accumulation).
All dried food products need to be inspected for signs of infestation, including cereals, packaged dried foods (e.g., food bars and chocolate) and pet foods. Cigarette beetles have also been found infesting dried flowers, potpourri and dried peppers used as decorations.
Keep in mind that infested items may not always be stored in the kitchen. Spices, potpourri and decorations made of vegetative products may be stored in any room of a house. Infestations have also been traced to caches of nuts and seeds accumulated by squirrels or rodents within attics, walls and chimneys. A pest management professional can be helpful in finding difficult infestation sources. Also consider the following to prevent an infestation: