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cigarette beetle

Lasioderma serricorne

What do they look like?

Adult cigarette beetles are small, reddish-yellow or brownish-red beetles shaped like ovals. They look like they are hunched over if you look at them from the side, because their head in bent downwards. The covers of their wings are smooth. They look a lot like drugstore beetles, but cigarette beetles are longer and thinner. Their larvae are off-white, shaped like grubs, covered with long yellowish-brown hairs. They have 3 pairs of legs and a brown head. After they are fully grown, both adults and larvae are 2 to 3 mm long. Adults weigh 0.0016 to 0.0044 g. (Jacobs, 1998; Lyon, 1991)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    0.0016 to 0.0044 g
    0.00 to 0.00 oz
  • Range length
    2 to 3 mm
    0.08 to 0.12 in

Where do they live?

Cigarette beetles are found all over the world, anywhere that stored tobacco is found. They most like to live in places above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They spread across the world by riding in packaged tobacco and other packaged products. They probably came from Egypt, because their dead bodies have been found in Egyptian tombs. (Ashworth, 1993; Jacobs, 1998; Lyon, 1991)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Cigarette beetles can live anywhere that there is stored food product to eat, so their habitat is hard to define. All they need to live are warm temperatures, food, and some humidity. Elevation and closeness to water are not very important. (Ashworth, 1993)

How do they grow?

Cigarette beetles lay pearly white eggs on dried, stored foods. The eggs have spines on the end, and the larvae come out from the spines 6 to 8 days later. Larvae are creamy white and covered in fine, light brown hairs. They burrow into loosely packed stored foods and feed on them until completely grown. Then, they build a cocoon and go through metamorphosis. About 4 to 12 days later, they come out as sexually mature adults. Adult females can lay eggs one day later. Their whole life cycle usually takes 26 to 33 days. (Ashworth, 1993)

How do they reproduce?

Cigarette beetles can reproduce right after they become adults. Between 10 and 12 hours after a female cigarette beetle emerges from its cocoon, it starts giving off chemicals called pheromones. This attracts male cigarette beetles. When male beetles come near the source of the pheromones, they lower their heads, vibrate their antennae, and walk in circles around the chemicals. Males and females have more than one mate. Females normally mate with 2 males, and males normally mate at least 6 times. (Ashworth, 1993; Papadopoulou, 2006a)

Cigarette beetles come out from their cocoons about 4 weeks after birth. They are fully developed and able to reproduce. Female beetles can lay eggs within one day. They usually lay eggs on dry, packaged foods, which help them have the most young. After laying eggs, she marks the spot with chemicals so other females don't lay their eggs there. Each female has 5.2 eggs on average. The eggs develop for 6 to 8 days before the larvae come out. (Ashworth, 1993; Hori, et al., 2011)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Female cigarette beetles mate twice and males mate more than 6 times within their short 2 to 7 week adult life.
  • Breeding season
    Cigarette beetles mate year-round.
  • Average eggs per season
  • Range gestation period
    6 to 8 days
  • Average time to independence
    0 minutes
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    4 weeks
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    4 weeks

Females allow the eggs to develop inside their bodies and then lay the eggs.

  • Parental Investment
  • female parental care
  • pre-fertilization
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • female

How long do they live?

Cigarette beetles live 26 days to 1 year in captivity. They usually live about 44 days. They develop best when the temperature is between 30 and 37 degrees Celsius and humidity is 70 to 75%. Larvae that eat more become larger adults that live longer. Cigarette beetles living in wheat flour lay 10 times more eggs than beetles living on tobacco. (Ashworth, 1993; Collins and Conyers, 2010; Mahroof and Phillips, 2008)

  • Range lifespan
    Status: captivity
    26 to 360 days
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    44 days

How do they behave?

Cigarette beetles live in large colonies that get into and ruin stores of food. They are active during the day and night, but usually don't leave their home during the day. Adults are good at flying and can travel to new stores of food. They can't get too far because they only live for 23 to 28 days. Cigarette beetles are most active around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. (Ashworth, 1993; Lyon, 1991)

Home Range

Cigarette beetles usually spend their whole lives in the food store where they were born, but can relocate to another nearby if needed. (Ashworth, 1993)

How do they communicate with each other?

Cigarette beetles communicate and get information about their environment from their senses of touch, sight, and receptors for chemicals. They use chemicals called pheromones to attract mates and lay eggs. (Ashworth, 1993)

What do they eat?

Cigarette beetles most often eat cigarettes and cigars, which is where they get their name. They eat a lot of other things, too, like raisins, figs, dates, ginger, pepper, nutmeg, chili powder, curry powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, yeast, drugs, legume seeds, barley, cornmeal, flour, soybean meal, sunflower meal, wheat, wheat bran, rice meal, beans, cereals, fish meal, peanuts, dry yeast, dried flowers, leather, woolen cloth, bamboo, and sometimes even dead insects. (Jacobs, 1998; Lyon, 1991)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts
  • fruit
  • flowers

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Cigarette beetles are eaten by different kinds of mites and beetles. Mites that eat them include Chortoglyphrrgs raciiipes, Pediculoides uentricosus, Seiulus, Acaropsis docro, Acaropsis solers, Cheyletus erudirus, and Tyrophagus putrescentiae. They are also eaten by feather legged orb weavers, red flour beetles, cadelle beetles, and clerid beetles. (Ashworth, 1993; Papadopoulou, 2006b)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Cigarette beetles feed solely on stored plant material and some carcasses of other insects found within their food source. There are some insects that prey on the cigarette beetles wasps (Anisopteromalus calandrae) and mites (Moniezella angusta) which feed on the larvae of the cigarette beetle. If not living within human food stores, cigarette beetles may live in and eat dead plant matter. (Ashworth, 1993; Jacobs, 1998)

Species (or larger taxonomic groups) used as hosts by this species
  • none found
Species (or larger taxonomic groups) that are mutualists with this species
  • none found
Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host
  • mites (Pyemofes tritici)
  • bacteria (Bacillus cereus)
  • Nosema plodiae
  • Pyxinia sp.
  • Venturia contxen
  • Israelius carthami
  • Bruchophagus sp.
  • Norbonus sp.
  • Lariophagus distinguendus
  • Theocolax elegans
  • Anisopteromnlusc alandrae
  • Cephalonomia gallicola

Do they cause problems?

Cigarette beetles feed on stored food products and contaminate them. In 1950 and 1968, about 0.7% of stored, unprocessed tobacco in the United States was destroyed by cigarette beetles. Cigarette beetles have recently been found in stored museum collections by living in packing peanuts. (Ashworth, 1993)

  • Ways that these animals might be a problem for humans
  • crop pest

How do they interact with us?

There are no known positive effects of Lasioderma serricorne on humans.

Are they endangered?

Cigarette beetles are not threatened or endangered. Researchers actually study how to get rid of them, because they destroy stored food and tobacco that are valuable to humans.

Some more information...

The best way to keep out cigarette beetles is to use a special kind of plastic. (Allahvaisi, et al., 2009)


Nicholas Brigham (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Catherine Kent (editor), Special Projects.



Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.

World Map


living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.

World Map


living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.


having a worldwide distribution. Found on all continents (except maybe Antarctica) and in all biogeographic provinces; or in all the major oceans (Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific.


active at dawn and dusk


animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oceanic islands

islands that are not part of continental shelf areas, they are not, and have never been, connected to a continental land mass, most typically these are volcanic islands.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.


remains in the same area


offspring are all produced in a single group (litter, clutch, etc.), after which the parent usually dies. Semelparous organisms often only live through a single season/year (or other periodic change in conditions) but may live for many seasons. In both cases reproduction occurs as a single investment of energy in offspring, with no future chance for investment in reproduction.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


uses sight to communicate



Allahvaisi, S., A. Pourmirza, M. Safaralizade. 2009. Packaging of Agricultural Products for Preventing Tobacco Beetles Contaminations. NOTULAE BOTANICAE HORTI AGROBOTANICI CLUJ-NAPOCA, 37/2: 218-222.


Collins, D., S. Conyers. 2010. The effect of sub-zero temperatures on different lifestages of Lasioderma serricorne (F.) and Ephestia elutella (Hubner). JOURNAL OF STORED PRODUCTS RESEARCH, 46/4: 234-241.

Hori, M., M. Miwa, H. Izawa. 2011. Host suitability of various stored food products for the cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne (Coleoptera: Anobiidae). APPLIED ENTOMOLOGY AND ZOOLOGY, 46/4: 463-469.

Jacobs, S. 1998. "Cigarette Beetle" (On-line). Accessed February 02, 2012 at

Lyon, W. 1991. "Cigarette and Drugstore Beetles" (On-line). Accessed February 02, 2012 at

Mahroof, R., T. Phillips. 2008. Life history parameters of Lasioderma serricorne (F.) as influenced by food sources. JOURNAL OF STORED PRODUCTS RESEARCH, 44/3: 219-226.

Papadopoulou, S. 2006. Tyrophagus putrescentiae (Schrank) (Astigmata : Acaridae) as a new predator of Lasioderma serricorne (F.) (Coleoptera : Anobiidae) in tobacco stores in Greece. JOURNAL OF STORED PRODUCTS RESEARCH, 42/3: 391-394.

Papadopoulou, S. 2006. Observations on the mating behavior of Lasioderma serricorne (F.) adults and experiments on their nutritional requirements in dried tobacco. COLEOPTERISTS BULLETIN, 60/4: 291-296.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Brigham, N. 2013. "Lasioderma serricorne" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 20, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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