Cigarette and Drugstore Beetles

Cigarette and drugstore beetles are two closely related species of small, reddish brown beetles that are moderately common pests in Iowa homes. The cigarette beetle was at one time a very important pest of the tobacco industry and got it's named from the damage it did to stored tobacco. The drugstore beetle gained its name because it was frequently found feeding on drugs in pharmacies many years ago.

Now, both insects are customarily found infesting all types of dry stored food products, spices, seeds, grains and dried plant material. We have recently received samples of cigarette beetles found in rice, dried potatoes, paprika, raisins, grain-based mouse bait, dried straw flowers and a table center piece made of varnished bread. Drugstore beetles are known to feed on leather, wool, hair, books and drugs.

For both insects an infested item will contain the 1/8th inch long, reddish brown, oval beetles and small, white larvae. Adult beetles often wander away from infested materials and may be found throughout the kitchen or house.

Control of cigarette and drugstore beetles requires locating and eliminating the infested item(s). All potentially infested materials should be carefully examined, including unopened boxes and packages. Cupboard shelves holding infested items and shelves in the vicinity of where the beetles have been noticed should be emptied and thoroughly vacuum cleaned. Household cleaners containing bleach or ammonia will have no effect on the insects