Both cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles are pantry pests that look very similar. This article discusses cigarette beetle vs. drugstore beetle and which one causes more damage.
Have you ever noticed tiny insects crawling around the drawer where you store medicine and other prescribed drugs?
You may have seen a similar insect loitering around a pack of stored tobacco as well.
Well, they aren’t the same insects; the ones found near medicines are called drugstore beetles, and the ones found near tobacco or ash are called cigarette beetles.
Both these insects are food pests and can cause massive damage to a wide variety of food and other household items.
In this article, we will discuss the difference between both them so you can handle them better.
What Is a Cigarette Beetle?
Cigarette beetles are tiny insects that usually infest dry plants, tobacco, and pet food (such as dry dog food or bird seed). The adult beetles can grow up to 1/3 inch in length and are brownish-red in color.
Their bodies are convexly shaped; also, if you look closely, you will see some fine hair on the wing covers.
These insects usually live in areas that are dimly lit; places like nooks, crevices, and cracks are ideal for them to live in.
Another interesting thing about these insects is that when they feel threatened, they pull their legs back and lie motionless to act as if they are dead.
What Is a Drugstore Beetle?
Drugstore beetles are common pests and can cause significant damage to food grains, stored food, packaged food products, prescription drugs, and even non-food items.
They can grow up to 1/7 inch in length and look a little similar to cigarette beetles. These beetles are also commonly known as biscuit beetle across the United Kingdom.
The adult female can lay up to 75 eggs in the food sources. It takes around 20 weeks for their larvae to grow. The larva looks like a small white grub.
Once it grows, it enters the pupation stage, which lasts about two weeks. The drugstore beetles rely heavily on the right temperature and food sources for survival.
How Are They Similar?
Both types have a lot of similarities in them, which is why it is often hard to distinguish between the two.
Both beetles have fine hair on the wing covers and are a little similar in size.
These beetles have almost identical diets; they feed on food items like dry mixes, cookies, pet food, coffee, cereals, nuts, rice, and other grains.
They also consume other items like leather, hair, wool, cardboard, herbs, furniture stuffing, and more.
Apart from their eating habits, both insects are nocturnal in nature and are primarily active during the night time.
On top of that, they are hunted by the same kind of creatures. Some of the top predators of these insects are mites, darkling beetles, and more.
Another good thing about these beetles is that they do not bite humans, and they also are not carriers of any diseases.
The only drawback is their capacity to ruin and infest food sources.
Differences Between the Two
Although they are similar in many aspects, there are tons of characteristics that separate the two beetle species.
If you look closely, you can point out many physical differences between the two. Moreover, they differ in terms of reproduction as well. Let us take a look at all of these differences closely.
One of the main physical differences between the two is the fact that the cigarette beetles have tiny saw-like spikes in their antennae, while the drugstore beetle has a three-segmented pattern in the antennae.
Another visible difference is that the drugstore beetles have tiny pits on the wing covers, while the cigarette beetles have smooth wing cover surfaces.
If you notice the body shape of the two, the cigarette beetle has a posture where its head is bent down. This gives a humped-back look to the insect.
On the other hand, the drugstore beetle has a deflexed head, but it is comparatively less deflexed and bent than the cigarette beetle.
The cigarette beetle larvae and drugstore beetle larvae are also different, as the former has longer body hair and a rounder head.
Female cigarette beetles are capable of laying around 10-100 eggs, and they usually survive for roughly two to four months.
The adult drugstore beetle, on the other hand, can lay about 75 eggs, and they typically don’t live beyond 2 months, but in some instances, these insects can live up to 7 whole months.
Another thing to note here is that cigarette beetles have ten days gestation period, while drugstore beetles have a short gestation of only a few days.
The tobacco beetle is known for consuming different stored tobacco products.
They also eat other unique items like dried fish, furniture, leather items, yeast cakes, seeds, and more.
The drugstore beetle loves to eat things that originated from vegetables and is a great threat to stored food products.
They will attack food containers and food packages containing seeds, cereals, and more. Apart from that, they also eat prescribed drugs that are stored in pharmacies and homes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do cigarette beetles bite humans?
No, cigarette beetles do not bite humans, and they also do not carry any harmful diseases.
When they feel threatened, instead of biting, they pull their legs back and lie motionless to act as if they are dead.
Despite this, they are a threat to the stored food grains in your home, and active measures should be taken to get rid of them.
How do you get rid of drugstore beetles from cigarettes?
If you find drugstore beetles in your cigarettes, it is likely that they are not drugstore beetles at all – they are going to be cigarette beetles.
In either case, heating the infested product to 190F in the oven for more than an hour will make sure that no beetle will survive the cigarettes.
How do you identify a drugstore beetle?
Drugstore beetles are tiny insects, and they show an average growth of 1/7 inches. These insects have a reddish-brown colored body and have fine hair on the wing slots.
These beetles have long three-sectioned antennae, and they get their name from the habit of infesting prescribed drugs that are stored in pharmacies and homes.
Is it hard to get rid of drugstore beetles?
Yes, getting rid of drugstore beetle infestation is a tough job. One of the main reasons behind it is that they are hard to track due to their tiny size.
Adding to that, the female drugstore beetle lays a lot of eggs which again increases the population of these insects.
These can enter your home with items that you purchase from outside. Items like seeds and dry pet food are a few that can carry these insects to your home.
Both drugstore and cigarette beetles might be similar at first glance, but there are many differences in their physical appearance, reproductive habits, and food habits.
Since both of these insects are tiny in size, it can be a challenge to get rid of them. But before you even attempt to do that, it is crucial to be able to differentiate between the two.
Use the information in the article to identify them properly and use the right method to deal with them.
Thank you for reading this article.
If you saw one of these pests in your home, there is everyone reason to be confused as to which bug you are encountering.
Given their size, their propensity to destroy food items, and many other similarities, it is hard to distinguish the two.
Several of our readers have also been confused by these bugs, and here are some of their emails searching for answers.
Letter 1 – Drugstore or Cigarette Beetle
what is this? plz help
We weren’t sure exactly what type of Pantry Beetle, so we asked Eric Eaton who responded: “Ah, well, these are Anobiidae beetles of some kind, most likely the drugstore beetle or the cigarette beetle. Was it smoking? Just kidding:-) In any event, it is a stored product pest in that family. Thanks for sharing.
Letter 2 – Cigarette Beetle or Drugstore Beetle
Subject: What is this bug
October 11, 2015 6:40 pm
This bug is a bit less than 1/2 cm. It has been found in my kitchen around the stove and in cabinets. It eats raw spagetti for sure, as well as cereal.
There are many beetles that will infest stored foods in the pantry, and we believe you are being troubled by Cigarette Beetles, based on an image on the Pantry Pests page of the University of Maryland Extension site. According to BugGuide, the Cigarette Beetle, Lasioderma serricorne, feeds on: “Dry plant matter of any sort, including spices and tobacco.” It may also be the superficially similar Drugstore Beetle, Stegobium paniceum, and according to BugGuide: “larvae feed on a very wide variety of materials of vegetable and animal origin (incl. drugs poisonous to humans, spices, tobacco, leather, wood, textiles…), may attack dried plant collections, old books, and paper; adults do not feed.”