The tobacco beetle gets its name from the fact that it is a world wide pest that attacks tobacco products all over the world, whether they are tobacco plants, cigars, cigarettes, as it is knows for chewing tobacco, thus causing damage. They are small beetles that lays her eggs in or on the food material. These beetles infest a wide variety of products, including pet food, flour, cereal, spices and pasta. They have also infested books, dried flowers, spices, leather, silk, old rodent bait and even museum specimens. However, their favorite food remains tobacco, which they can easily infest. As cigars and tobacco are usually kept in humidors, and these beetles prefer a warm and humid environment, it is imperative to be preventive, especially when you are a tobacco enthusiast. Most tobacco beetles can thrive quite abundantly in temperatures or humidity levels that exceed 72% moisture or 20°C/70°F.
Preventive measures for avoiding infestation with tobacco pests
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°C/70°F. Do not leave them out under artificial lighting or in direct sunlight.
To be able to control the tobacco you purchased so that it is not affected by these pests, you need to follow the below steps:
- Make sure the temperature of your humidor is kept constant and it does not go higher than 20°C/70°F, keep it away from sunlight, in the coldest spot of the house;
- Constantly check your cigars for holes of about 2 mm in diameter and little piles of “cigar dust”, as those are signs you are dealing with infested products;
- You can also tell if a cigar has beetles by gently tapping the foot of the cigar and dust falls out of it.
- When in doubt, you can freeze your cigars, however, you need to double bag them, to make sure the refrigerator will not affect the moisture of the cigars, as the tobacco beetle does not tolerate cold temperatures;
- You should check your humidor for signs of infestation every few days;
- When cleaning your humidor, wipe it down with a damp cloth or even better, vacuum it in order to make sure it is completely cleaned;
- In order to regulate the humidity level in your humidor, you can place a few cedar strips inside it;
- Make sure you have a quality humidor, with a lid that properly closes; avoid the ones with glass lids, as glass is not a great insulator;
- When cleaning your humidor, never use any kind of disinfectant or cleaner on the inside. Not only will this leave a bad odor behind, but it will likely ruin your wood and taint your cigars permanently.
It is vital that these steps are followed accordingly. Every cigar within the humidor must be addressed when inspecting them. The freezing process is used to kill any beetles or eggs within your cigars. During this time, clean the humidor to remove any remaining beetles or eggs, and return the humidification element. As the beetle problem was for sure caused by a rise in temperature within your humidor. It is important that your humidor is stored at a constant temperature at all times – no more than 20°C/70°F, as that is the temperature when tobacco beetle eggs hatch. Your humidor should not be placed near or on top of heating elements, under artificial lights that can heat it up, or in direct sunlight. Take care of it as to avoid further infestation problems by constantly inspecting it and maintaining a habitat which is unsuitable for tobacco beetles. It’s always better to prevent tobacco beetles in the first place rather than clean up their mess afterwards.
The last thing you want is to ruin an entire cigar collection because you forgot to clean your unit or because you left the lid open. As long as you’re following the temperature and humidity guidelines for your cigar humidor, there’s no chance that tobacco beetles will be able to survive and thrive within your device.
Remember to also inspect the whole house in order to discard of any food that is infested, should this be the case. Since these beetles can infest so many types of products, inspect thoroughly. There may be several infested products. Use a vacuum to clean the shelves of all pantries and cabinets where food is stored. Vacuuming will remove food residue. Store new food products in sealed plastic containers. Should you be facing a larger infestation and insecticides need to be applied, check the eradication methods presented in our article related on ‘How to get rid of a Tobacco Beetle‘ infestation.