Cigarette beetle (Lasioderma serricorne)

Type of pest: Primary pest, secondary pest

Distribution: the cigarette beetle has a worldwide distribution, due to its adaptation to a wide variety of foodstuffs. It is considered a pest of economic importance in most areas with tropical and subtropical climates. Its survival in colder climates is dependent upon entry into warm buildings. It lives in sheltered environments in temperate areas.

Identification: Adults are 3 – 4 mm, brown and globular. Antennae are long, segments are saw-like, elytra are smooth with fine hairs. Larvae, scarabaeiform, have legs fully developed.

Similar species: Lasioderma serricorne, commonly known as the cigarette beetle, cigar beetle or tobacco beetle, is very similar in appearance to the drugstore beetle (Stegobium paniceum ) and the common furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum), and all three species belong to the Anobiidae family.

Life cycle: The female beetle lays around 100 eggs loosely on the commodity. The hatching larvae are the ‘grow bag’ stage of the insect and are active and will move around on and bore into the product, feeding as they go. The optimal development condition is 26 days with a temperature of 30 ºC and 70% r.h. The development duration depends strongly on the temperature and can be between 26 to 120 days. Tobacco beetles are slightly shy and can fly very well. Through their photophobia cigarette beetles will hide between the products and in cracks and seams of the storage. The new larvae can live 10 days without food.

Commodities infested: As indicated by its common name, the cigarette beetle is a pest of tobacco, both in the refined cigarette packet presentation and also as stored in hogsheads and bales. The beetle is also a minor pest of oilcake, oilseeds, cereals, dried fruit, sage, flour and some animal products. Damage to tobacco is caused primarily by the larvae; the adult beetles feed to a limited extend. Larval feeding causes direct damage to foodstuffs and non-food items. Alongside the direct damage caused by feeding, these products are contaminated by the presence of beetles, larvae, pupae, cocoons, frass (fecal material) and insect parts. Beetles chewing through cardboard boxes and packaging cause indirect damage. Larvae will sometimes bore their way through cardboard boxes and other packaging in search of a place to pupate. Cocoons are often attached to a solid substrate and in severe infestations form large clusters.

Increasing concerns over the use of toxic compounds, linked to health and environmental fears, as well as the ineffectiveness of fumigations below 16°C (61°F) and the development of phosphine resistant populations, have fuelled the need to find alternative control methods.

Preventive measures include ensuring a cool and dry storage, regularly clean storage – and production areas, store tobacco as short as possible.

Treatment: Controlled Atmosphere for infestation in product
Treatment: Heat Treatment for infestation in buildings

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