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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.



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 May 18, 2024 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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