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Cigar Beetles and Tobacco Beetles, How to Get Rid of These Bugs

A Cigar Beetle at High Magnification

Don’t get too intimidated by these bugs. And by buys, I mean the red-yellow or brown-red hunched oval-shaped tobacco beetles and cigar beetles.

I’m sure some of you by now are somewhat shocked that there are bugs that can destroy your cigar collection. But sadly, they are around. However, there are plenty of ways to prevent any incubation of them, and that involves your humidor. 

When You Find Cigar Beetles

Now, for instance, it’s a Sunday afternoon, and you reach into your humidor, expecting to grab an excellent smoke of yours to enjoy in the sun. Instead, you feel an itchy sensation crawl up your wrist, which is, in fact, a tobacco beetle. You’d be surprised by the number of retailers that I’ve visited who’ve shown clear signs that they have inhabited tobacco beetles. They feed off your tobacco, and throughout adult life, their wings begin to sprout, and that’s when they can fly around your humidor in order to look for more of your smokes. It’s pretty bad, and once you have them, it means trouble. Tobacco beetles can decrease your collections to a small mass. They can be controlled, so don’t get too anxious. They tend to hatch when the humidity of your humidor gets too high. That’s where we come in. 

Tobacco Beetle at High Magnification
Tobacco Beetle

What About Using Fumigants?

As I said, don’t become overly stressed because the problem can be fixed. There are multiple fumigants that manufacturers use and also the retailers when they receive them from shipping. For those of you who don’t know what fumigation is, it’s just a gas-releasing pellet or tablet that you place in a sealed room or container (typically a room) that releases gas in order to exterminate the cheeky devil cigar beetles. 

One of the positives of a fumigant is that it doesn’t leave any traces of the gas or harmful residue. However, I would suggest you leave the room for 72 hours before entering again to retrieve the cigars. I suppose you could call this the chemical way of extermination.

The more natural methods are intended to “rob oxygen” from the cigar beetles during fumigation. Another way is freezing. The great thing with this treatment is that it kills the beetles at any point in its growth. Some manufacturers use these methods, and others let them hatch under the correct conditions to grow. 

Just to point out, it’s more common for handmade cigars to inhabit the beetles and pass them on to the cigar collections. It goes without saying; all consumers will want to know where the cigars originate from and how clean they are. 

What Should I do if Beetles do inhabit my Humidor?

To begin with, you must check for any visible eggs, shells, or feces. Small details such as fine brown powder collecting in the corners of your humidor are definite signs. If you have a cabinet humidor, the powder is surprisingly more evident in the drawers. 

#1 First and foremost, bag up all cigars with any traces of small holes. Any bag will do and get them out of your house as soon as possible. When I experienced the devilish creatures, I had considered burning them and forcing the other beetles to watch in an audience to show them what there were in for. But I chose not to. I can imagine my kids horrified faces!

#2 If you discovered a cigar beetle infestation, then listen carefully. All cigars have now likely to have also been infected by the beetles’ eggs or disease. This problem needs to be attended to with care. In many cases, the beetles have remained close to only one or two particular cigars. 

#3 Freezing your cigars: Many a consumer would consider this option. Though it doesn’t always solve the problem, it saves your cigars from getting severely damaged or even worse, sacrificed. All you need to d is simply place all of your cigars into a bag that can be frozen. It’s recommended it be ziplocked. You want to make sure that your cigars have a secure vapor barrier. By doing so, wrap the freezer bg in plastic freezer wrapping. Any moisture whatsoever is not allowed! In my experience, around three days is enough in the freezer. I also found the colder the temperature of your freezer, the higher the outcome of extermination. You might not know, but cigar beetles are very fearless buggers. They can outstand many temperature extremes.

While You’re Waiting for the Treatments to Take Effect

While you’re waiting for the three days to come to an end, one of the most substantial parts of the process is deep cleaning your humidor. Get a vacuum and suck up any remains or brown powder piles. Next – and very importantly, wipe the inside with a fresh cloth. Preferably somewhat damp. Do not include disinfectants at any point in the cleaning out process. The chemicals inside them can damage the humidor and your cigars. One of the downsides of this entire routine is that it does take quite a while. After three days, take the bag out of the freezer and place it in the fridge for a further two days.

You don’t want to be putting your frozen cigars into a well-heated humidor; otherwise, you may find your smokes have a shock. By putting them in your fridge, it just reduces the trauma. You’re going to hate me for saying this, but after those two days in the refrigerator, you must enable your cigars to take a breather and regain there average ‘body temperature’ if you like.

Last but not least, take your smokes out of the freezer bag and place them back into their humidor. Sealed cigar boxes have a more narrowed chance of any infestation. However, if one of your cabinet humidors becomes infested, repeat the exact process above, and you’ll find those buggers will be long gone. 

How Did The Outbreak Begin?

The very last thing you’ll need to sort out is how the outbreak began in the first place. A common cause of infestation is, in fact, your humidity conditions of the humidor—Double-check for any unusual humidity activity. Situations, where the humidor is too hot or too humid, have a significant effect on your cigars and outbreaks. The bugs can indeed appear out of nowhere at any point, even if our humidor is pristine condition, you’ll find that temperature triggers it most of the time. The risk – from my experience – seems to lie somewhere around 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Any heat sources or windows with direct sunlight shining through should be kept away from any humidors. The most important thing is to keep your cigars and humidor free of any insects and bugs. Protect, resolve, and continue your collections. 

Some More Reading on Tobacco Beetles:

An Introduction to the “Cigarette Beetle”

Have You Heard of the Tobacco Beetle?

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