How to Get Rid of Cigar Beetles & Tobacco Bugs

June 22, 2015

How To Keep Cigar Beetles at Bay



What is even more damaging to your cigars than mold? Bugs! An infestation of cigar beetles can destroy your prized collection in only a couple of days. If these nasty little pests invade your humidor, you have big trouble, so it’s very important to watch out for tobacco beetles and stop them before they do their dirty work.


What is a tobacco beetle?

The tobacco beetle is tiny, only two to three millimeters long in adulthood, but is extremely hungry and destructive. They live two to four weeks and prefer warm, humid climates. If a female beetle finds a home in your humidor, she will chew her way through the wrappers of your cigars and lay up to 100 eggs that will hatch into larvae within six to 10 days. It’s these miniscule larvae, no larger than the head of a pin, which will feast on the tobacco in your cigars and leave pinhole-sized circles in their wake.


How do they get into your humidor?

The pests enter your supply often by way of new cigars that may be concealing beetle eggs. Although cigar manufacturers take every possible precaution to avoid having their products infested, sometimes the little buggers manage to make it into the finished smokes that you buy. This is why you must inspect your collection on a regular basis in order to detect the signs as soon as possible.


How to watch out for tobacco beetles

The best way to stop beetles before they can decimate your cigars is to check the contents of your humidor every few days, especially if you live in a hot, humid climate. Inspect each stick carefully and keep an eye out for tiny holes that indicate the presence of beetles. Gently tap any suspicious cigar and see if a bit of dust falls out. It takes only 48 hours for a beetle infestation to ruin every cigar in a humidor, so you must take action at the first sign of a problem!

The worst-case scenario involves neglecting your cigars until, one day, you open the humidor to find adult beetles that are accompanied with sad little piles of tobacco dust to highlight the harm already done. When you get a new batch of cigars, or if you notice the telltale signs of an outbreak, take the following steps to minimize the damage.


How to freeze them out

If you find even one damaged cigar, it’s likely that more are infested. To do treat your stash, remove all cigars from your humidor and place them in Ziploc Baggies; double bag them to avoid freezer burn. Be sure to seal the bags tightly so that any beetles or larvae can’t escape. Place bags in the fridge for 24 hours, then move to the freezer and leave them there for three days. After that, move all bags from the freezer back to the fridge and let them stay there for 24 hours before placing them back in the humidor. Do not skip this last step because immediately transitioning frozen cigars to a warm humidor can cause the wrappers to become cracked or damaged. Once all the steps are completed, the extreme cold will kill adult beetles, eggs and larvae.


Clean your humidor

While your cigars are in the freezer, give your humidor a thorough cleaning. While freezing your cigars will kill the beetles that are already nesting inside them, there could be more lurking in the container that could taint future smokes. Wipe the inside of the humidor clean with a damp cloth to remove any remaining beetles, eggs or larvae and allow it to dry. Add some extra strips of cedar to absorb any excess moisture before returning cigars to the humidor.


How to discourage future infestations

Tobacco beetles love heat and humidity, which makes your humidor the ideal habitat for them to breed and flourish. To avoid putting out the welcome mat for these pests, keep this holder at an even temperature at all times. Avoid fluctuations and maintain it at no higher than 70 degrees. Keep the humidor away from direct sunlight or other sources of warmth like heaters or artificial lights. Check your humidification device to make sure it is operating properly; if it’s faulty, your humidor could be getting too hot and encourage future infestation.


Is it safe to smoke cigars damaged by beetles?

There are differences of opinion on this. Some smokers say any cigar damaged by tobacco beetles should be destroyed, others say if you see just a pinhole or two, wipe it with alcohol and smoke it anyway. After freezing, any beetles should be dead; however, just to play it safe, we recommend replacing any noticeably tarnished sticks with new ones.

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