How to Spot Tobacco Beetles
Believe it or not, even in the modern era, tobacco beetles continue to be a slight problem for cigar manufacturers and smokers around the world. You would think with the knowledge and pesticides we have, the cigar industry would be able to eliminate these pesky little bugs, but unfortunately not.
Tobacco beetles have been an issue for hundreds of years and if you aren’t careful they can chew through your entire humidor in a matter of days. To be vigilant, it is important to understand what a tobacco beetle is, how they live, how you can spot them, and of course how to prevent them.
What is a Tobacco Beetle
The Lasioderma serricorne, or cigar beetle, is a very tiny insect, about 2.5 mm in size and brown in its color. If you would like more detail on their classification you can check out the Wikipedia page about them here. While they are also well known in the cigarette industry, cigar smokers have considered them their nemesis for years.
The Life of a Tobacco Beetle
Tobacco beetles are named so because of their need to live in humid and warm places. This makes tobacco particularly attractive. They are incredibly small, so it makes them difficult to spot in the manufacturing end of the business. Once they are born, they can hatch, grow, and begin to eat at an astronomical rate.
They choose cigar tobacco because of its warm and humid nature and will nestle themselves into the tobacco bales and continue to procreate. They will then chew or borough themselves throughout your cigar collection.
By the time you notice you have a beetle problem, it is already too late. You will notice pieces of tobacco in your humidor, similar to sawdust. You will then begin to see tiny holes throughout your cigars. Once one cigar is infested with beetles, it is a safe bet that all your cigars are now infested.
How to Prevent Tobacco Beetles
The main cause of a beetle outbreak is temperature. As stated in our cigar humidor article, you want to make sure your humidor around 70° F and around 70% humidity at all times. The warmer and more humid your humidor, the more likely the beetles will hatch and begin to thrive.
Beetles will begin to hatch around 74° and 75% humidity, so if you live in a particularly warm or humid area, make sure to constantly check your temperature and humidity.
How to Kill Tobacco Beetles
Once a cigar is infested with beetles, I am afraid nothing can be done but throw it away. However, if you noticed that most of your other cigars seem fine, you can prevent further issues. First place your cigars in separate plastic bags. Place those bags in the freezer for 1-2 days as the beetles cannot live in cold temperatures.
Following this, clean your humidor to make sure there are no lingering eggs. Then you can place your cigars back in the humidor and maintain a normal temperature and humidity setting. The unfortunate part is that by placing the cigars in the freezer, you will lose some of the wrapper oils that help with flavor and construction, however, if you put them in for only a day or two, they should ultimately be fine.