The Cigarette Beetle: A Formidable Pittsburgh Pantry Pest

While the term, pantry pest, may be location specific, it is, at the same time, not telling enough to describe the destructive insects that like to linger in home pantries and destroy dried and processed food of all types. 

Pantry pests can breed almost continuously, as they tend to live inside the food products that serve as nourishment. 

They can produce several generations over the course of a single year. 

The cigarette beetle is known all over the world, and like its namesake, it is not only shaped like a cigarette, it has also been deemed as hazardous to health, albeit the well being of tobacco leaves and stored tobacco. 

Also known as the tobacco beetle, this insect is a major and quite versatile invader and destroyer of many stored food products that are kept in kitchen cabinets and pantries. 

Their appetites are insatiable when it comes to: flours; dry mixes; powdered milk; pasta; dried fruits like dates and raisins; cereals; coffee beans; herbs; spices; cornstarch; crackers; paprika and other spices; bread; bird seed; nuts; rice and dry pet food.

Besides the direct damage they cause to food, cigarette beetles are disgusting to behold, annoying beyond belief and they are the bane of any Pittsburgh homeowners who encounters them ruining their expensive food products.

They have been around almost as long as humans and archaeological findings report that the fossils of some cigarette beetles were found in dried resin from the tomb of the Egyptian boy king, Tutankhamen.

While the pantry is the natural habitat for these critters, cigarette beetles are often found in other areas of the home such as: in bedrooms, bathrooms or living rooms.  

This beetle has been known to eat its way through wood and cardboard to get to a food source. 

Our pest-control and pest-management specialists are often on the other end of desperate complaints from homeowners about help with a cigarette beetle infestation. 

Their industrial and commercial sector addresses pantry pest elimination for food-related businesses as well.

These destructive pests have incurred severe economic losses to many enterprises including: flour mills; bakeries; pet food factories; cereal manufacturing centers; snack food plants; chocolate factories; confectionaries; wholesale distribution centers; and sometimes retail stores. 

Cigarette Beetles Appearance and Behavior

Oval in shape and yellowish-to reddish brown in color, adult cigarette beetles can grow to be 1/10th of an inch in length. 

Their antennae are serrated, or saw-like. Their heads and thoraxes render a hump-like appearance because they are bent downward. 

The larvae are off-white in color, and resemble worms in appearance. 

Similar in body shape and habits to the drugstore beetle, they are often confused with one another.

A female cigarette beetle will lay her eggs inside food and tobacco products. 

The will hatch into a larva state within a span of six to 10 days, and are found in dark corners of a pantry or larder where they crawl through stored food as they develop into adults.

They are known to chew through packaging to get to foods inside.

Once the brown adult beetles emerge inside the food product, they chew holes in the packaging to get out.

Their life cycle is about 90 days. Adult beetles are nocturnal and usually aggregate around windows or lights, or flying in circles over a food source. 

They often “play dead” for a few moments if they are touched.

A Few Interesting Facts About Cigarette Beetles

The Adults Are Very Strong Fliers

Cigarette beetles have serrated antennae and wings. 

They are most active in subdued light and on cloudy days, usually in the late afternoon or early evening.

Cigarette Beetles Reach Sexual Maturity During The Pupal Stage

Within 10 to 12 hours after a female cigarette beetle emerges from its cocoon, it begins producing sex pheromones from a specialized pore on the second segment on its abdomen. 

Some cigarette beetles can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time.

These Beetles Can Chew Through Cardboard And Other Packaging

In this regard, cigarette beetles stand apart from other pantry pests that usually infest products that have already been opened. 

While they may chew their way in, they are much more likely to crawl in through folds and seams.

Cigarette Beetles Thrive In Temperatures Above 65 Degrees Fahrenheit

The entire lifecycle, from egg to reproducing adult takes 30 to 90 days, but development slows in cooler temperatures and stops below 65 degrees F.

They Have A Strange Mating Cycle

Female cigarette beetles mate twice and males mate more than 6 times within their short 2 to 7 week adult life. 

10 Key Cigarette Beetle Prevention Tips

It is said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

This is a wise, old proverb that also applies to cigarette beetle infestations in Pittsburgh homes. 

Involving professionals, such as the pest-control and pest-management specialists at Pestco, is solid advice to start with because dealing with pantry pest infestations is a formidable task. 

Consider the following tips to protect your Pittsburgh home. .

    1. Thoroughly Check Dried Foods For Damage Before Bringing Them Home: Cigarette beetles can easily be hidden inside dried foods. Check carefully for signs of damage. 
    2. Invest in Airtight Plastic Or Glass Containers To Store Dried Goods:  This includes pet foods. Sealed containers will prevent the beetles from spreading to other food sources, should they infest a particular product. 
    3. Home Owners Should Regularly Rotate Stored Dry Goods: Reorganize the pantry so that older foods items are stored up front. The longer an item goes unused or uneaten, the greater the chance of a cigarette beetle infestation. Places with dark crevices allow them to remain unseen.
    4. Use A Caulking Gun To Seal Cracks: This is the ideal tool for weather stripping, filling in holes, gaps, and cracks around the home.
    5. Repair Damage To Roof Shingles, Siding, and Chimney: Preventing ingress is much more economical than having to get rid of invading pantry pests.
    6. Make Sure Window/Door Screens Are In Good Condition
    7. Install Door Sweeps On All Exterior Doors Of Your Home
    8. Throw Away All Infested items In an Outdoor Trash Can
    9. Thoroughly Clean All Food Storage Areas
    10. 10.Vacuum Up Dirt And Use Soap And Water For Shelving And Cabinetry: Use a vacuum to clean the shelves of all pantries and cabinets where food is stored. Vacuuming will remove food residue.

The Very Best In Pittsburgh Cigarette Beetle Control

Managing pests like these beetles can be very difficult and the very first step is finding out whether or not there is a true infestation in the home and discovering its source. 

This requires conducting a thorough inspection of all dry goods, pet foods, spices and packaged items and perhaps some decorations that might ordinarily be missed such as: potpourri, strings of dried peppers and preserved flowers. 

Believe it or not, pest-control and pest-maintenance specialists have reported instances where nuts and seeds accumulated inside walls by rodents have led to an infestation.



The first step our technicians will take will be to locate the source of the infestation — effective pest-control and pest-management solutions begin at this point. 

This process can be very complex, as in order to resolve the problem, all the eggs, larvae, and adults infesting your home or establishment must be found and eliminated. 

Based on their findings, our professionals will implement a unique treatment plan that will both eliminate the current infestation and prevent future problems with pantry pests.

Since our formation in 1948, we have been a consistent industrial leader in pest-control and pest-management solutions throughout Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania.

Pestco Professional Services Truck

Our growth over the last seven decades is largely due to the fact that they offer superior services, products and pest control strategies. 

Our highly trained technicians attend company workshops to ensure they are always on top of and a few steps ahead of the pests they encounter. 

We guarantee results for any infestation and take the time to educate our clients as to what they can do to minimize the risk of returning pests. 

We always welcome questions and offer helpful solutions, and we understand that no one product ever fits-all strategies, situations and solutions, and we utilize only products that are environmentally friendly and promote a carbon footprint policy that will insure a green planet for future generations.

Our integrated pest control and pest management services (IPM) have practical, hands-on approaches that entail, among others, an extensive and thorough examination of the affected residence and the sealing up of any cracks and crevices that might permit insect or rodent ingress.

In Conclusion

So call our teams today for the very best in Pittsburgh pantry pest control — we’re always here to help!

Photo Credits: Pixabay

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