How to get rid of Tobacco Pests

tobacco pests lasioderma serricorne how to get rid of

The most common pest that is a problem when it comes to tobacco, is the tobacco beetle – also known as the cigarette beetle or, scientifically, as Lasioderma serricorne. This is described by many to be the worst problem encountered in the tobacco industry, attacking tobacco plants, cigars, cigarettes, as well as chewing tobacco. It’s not only an outside production of tobacco plants that you should be concerned about when it comes to tobacco beetles, though, seeing as these tiny pests can easily invade your home, as well. If they find cigars, they will chew through the wrappers, lay eggs, and, in turn, the larvae will feast on the tobacco in the cigars, completely eliminating it.

tobacco pests lasioderma serricorne how to get rid of

Not only that, but tobacco beetles are also willing to feed on books and book bindings, as well as seasonings such as pepper, chili, paprika, ginger, and foods such as pasta, raisins, and a number of different types of seeds. Dry flower arrangements will not remain untouched, either, and studies show that cigarette beetles will even feed on pyrethrum, which is an active ingredient found in many insect baits and insecticides. Not only will these pests feed on the variety of items mentioned above, but they will damage it and contaminate it with eggs, larvae, and faecal matter. Regardless, tobacco beetles do not bite or sting people, and although they have been known to get tangled in people’s hair or clothes, they do not actually cause any direct harm to humans.

Signs of infestation

The most common way that these pests enter households in through products that contain tobacco, but also through dried seeds or different sorts of packaged food. Thus, you should inspect items before you actually bring them into your home, this being especially important when it comes to buying cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or simply tobacco leaves. Furthermore, you should check packaging or humidors once every couple of days, keeping in mind to do it as often as possible if you live in a hot and humid climate. Keep all products that contain tobacco in a room or container that is not exposed to fluctuations in temperature or to temperatures higher than 20 degrees Celsius. Do not leave them out under artificial lighting or in direct sunlight.

Natural control methods

Practicing good sanitation alongside the non-chemical control techniques can both speed the work of chemical control and prevent future infestations from returning.
First and foremost, once you have detected an infestation, you must inspect all the items already mentioned above and immediately discard any and all that show signs of infestation. Be sure to seal the bin bag tightly and to immediately take it outside. Following this, you should vacuum and clean shelves thoroughly, paying special attention to cracks, crevices, corners, whatever might represent a good enough place for a small insect to hide.

We recommend that you also consider taking the following pre-emptive measures:

  • Removing seasonings or dry pantry foods that tobacco beetles prefer from their original containers (which are usually made of cardboard) and choose to store them in plastic or glass containers that have a tight-fitting lid;
  • Clean your pantry, as well as other places in your kitchen (such as counters, where you work with seasonings a lot) regularly, thus ensuring that tobacco beetles will not have any crumbs or small bits of food to be attracted to;
  • Keep the humidity in your pantry, as well as in other storage units, low;
  • As a further precautionary step, we recommend that you do not mix old foods with new foods, just in case the old ones might be infested, and that you clean old containers before you throw in the new food for the same reason;
  • Do not mix old and new lots of foodstuffs. If the old material is infested, the Cigarette beetles will quickly invade the new.

In the context of an indoor infestation, you can tell that your cigars or cigarettes have been infested if you notice small, pinhole-sized circles in the wrapping. However, as we have noted before, cigarette beetles attack not only tobacco-based products, but also a wide range of food items. Carefully inspect seasonings, seeds, dried fruits, dried foods, pet food, and don’t forget about inedible items, too, such as dry flower arrangements. Look for adults, larvae, or eggs, keeping in mind that the latter are very tiny and, thus, utmost attention is needed. In order to ensure that your inspection is as successful as possible, we recommend that you use a flashlight and a magnifying glass. If you are unsure of whether a particular product is infected or not, you can test it by placing it in a plastic bag; this will basically not allow any potential bugs to escape, offering you the chance to catch sight of them easily.
If you are especially lucky, you might even notice tobacco beetles flying into open areas; this usually happens when they are disturbed and feel the need to flee in search of another hiding space, but the truth is that they are also known to be particularly active at night.
They will not bite, sting or poison you, but they can cause a big nuisance and damage to your tobacco and dry foods.

Chemical control methods

After managing to check everything and to select the products that have not been affected, you can place everything that has passed inspection back in its place and use an insecticide aerosol, which will kill any remaining adults and, thus, prevent future infestation. Due to the life cycle of these pests, it is recommended that you repeat this part of the treatment at least 2-4 times, each time about 3 weeks apart, so that eggs or pre-existing larvae do not get the chance to become adults, mate, and lay even more eggs.
Pheromone traps have also proven to be useful. These work on the basis of a sex pheromone that is usually secreted by the females and that attracts males, leading to them entering the trap and becoming stuck, usually on a glue strip. It is recommended that you place these in the areas where tobacco beetles have most often been seen or those where it would be more likely that they live. The areas where it is most likely to find tobacco pests, and where the traps are proven to be most effective, are kitchens, pantries, bathrooms, warehouses, and food processing plants.

Traps for Tobacco Pests control:

The use of too many chemicals when it comes to tobacco is not supported, due to the fact that over time, researchers have found up to 4,000 chemicals and pesticides inside cigarettes. Up to 90% of tobaccos in US are being genetically modified because of the fact that farmers are spraying ten times more chemicals on the tobacco plants to kill the bugs and the weeds, which ends up affecting the plants as well. Because using chemicals on fruits and vegetables is not supported either, applying herbicides or fungicides on tobacco plants should be replaced with natural and organic methods of control. Adding more chemicals to the already dangerous tobacco plants will just increase their unhealthy effects, and as it is a plant that ends up being consumed, keeping it clean of pesticides is important.

If you have detected the infestation in its beginning stages, you can try to salvage your cigars. Place them in small plastic bags, zip them shut, and leave them in the fridge for twenty-four hours, before switching to the freezer for the same amount of time. Repeat the first step of transferring them back to the fridge; this will allow them to thaw gradually and avoid wrinkles or crinkles in the wrappers. The extreme temperatures will kill adults, as well as larvae and eggs. While your cigars are in the freezer, give your humidor a thorough cleaning. You can also add some extra strips of cedar to absorb any excess moisture before returning cigars to the humidor.

Spraying concentrated insecticides for Tobacco Pests control:

When deciding what insecticide to use during a pest control operation, you need to take into consideration what type of effect does the product have. It can have a knock-down effect, a residual and long-lasting effect, you need to know the level of safety after its application, the environmental protection and habitat and if it has a powerful smell, alongside its application possibilities and the needed frequency of application.

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Foggers for Tobacco Pests control:

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      Tank Capacity:

    • 0.5 liters

Common as they are, tobacco beetles’ infestations are usually quite easy to remove from the household. Remember to always move dry pantry foods from their original container into plastic ones, clean your pantry shelves regularly, never purchase broken packages, and never mix the old and new dry foods you bought. Try keeping the areas where you keep dry foods and tobacco as dry as possible and clean the areas as often as possible. Vacuum often, as it will help eliminate bugs, throw out cigarette or cigar butts regularly, and store your cigars in a humidor or a completely sealed container, in order to prevent tobacco pests from reaching them. For more details on how to prevent issues with tobacco pests, you can check our article about ways in which you can ‘Prevent infestation with Tobacco Pests’.

When it comes to tobacco, there is more than one pest you need to be aware of:

  • Brown stink bugs (Euschitus servus): suck juices out of tobacco leaves and insert a toxic substance that causes them to deteriorate even further;
  • Cabbage loopers (Trichoplusia ni): larvae feed on plants, leaving only the larger leaf veins intact;
  • Granulate cutworms (Feltia subterrunea): feed on seedlings, sever newly set plants at or near ground level, chew large holes in or cut off leaves altogether;
  • Green June beetles: larvae uproot seedlings;
  • Green peach aphids (Myzus persicae): suck plant juices out of tobacco leaves, leaving them stunted and distorted;
  • Japanese beetles: feed on leaves, chewing large holes through them;
  • Potato tuberworms (also known as tobacco splitworms or Photorimaea operculella): create ‘tunnels’ through the leaves, leading to deterioration and weight loss;
  • Southern green stink bugs (Nezara viridula): suck juices out of tobacco leaves and insert a toxic substance that causes them to deteriorate further;
  • Southern mole crickets (Scapteriscus vicinus): feed on and tunnel through plant roots, as well as uproot small seedlings;
  • Southern potato wireworms (Conoderus falli): feed on the underground stems of tobacco plants;
  • Suckflies: suck plant juices from late-season tobacco, reducing the coloration and weight of the leaves;
  • Tobacco budworms (Heliothis virescens): eggs are laid in or near the bud of the tobacco plants and larvae subsequently feed on it;
  • Tobacco flea beetles (Epitrix hirtipennis): larvae feed on the roots of the plants, while adults feed on the plants themselves, chewing right through them and creating small holes;
  • Tobacco hornworms (Manduca sexta): feed on plants and may completely defoliate them in extreme infestations;
  • Tobacco wireworms (Conoderus vespertinus): create tunnels through and feed on the underground stems of tobacco plants;
  • Vegetable weevils: attack seedlings and newly set plants, feeding on leaves and buds;
  • Whitefringed beetles (Graphognathus): adults feed on plants, leaving cuts on the outer edges of the leaves, while larvae feed on roots, stunting and killing the plants.

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