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Cigar Beetles

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It seems like everything good in life comes with some sort of bug. You can’t even enjoy a good cigar without having to worry about cigar beetles. It’s especially worse with cigars because you have to put them in your mouth to enjoy them.

While a beetle isn’t nearly as nasty as a cockroach, it’s still a bit unnerving to imagine one of those things crawling all over your cigar. There’s no telling where that beetle was crawling five minutes ago.

The scientific name for them is Lasioderma Serricorne. They are also known as “Cigarette Beetles” or “Tobacco Beetles” but the point is, they enjoy tobacco, and that’s where they go whenever some are available.

What are cigar beetles?

two tobacco beetlesWhen you normally think of a beetle, you think of those large, fat-bodied things that sluggishly crawl around everywhere and are relatively harmless to people. Cigar beetles are tiny little things, about the size of a pinhead.

Odds are, you won’t see them unless you’re actively looking for them. To make matters so much worse, cigar beetles have a ferocious appetite, and they can pour over and through your cigars like a five-year-old on a candy binge.

They live for a little over a month, so it makes sense they stay hungry and breed uncontrollably. They will eat everything that makes a cigar, well, a cigar, including the packaging, the wrapper, the little signet that goes around the wrapping, and all the tobacco leaves within.

How to spot cigar beetles

above shot of a tobacco beetleAs we mentioned above, spotting them isn’t an easy task, especially if there aren’t very many of them at first. They’re very small, and you’re far more likely to spot the damage they do than the bugs themselves.

When cigar beetles are actively eating your cigars, a series of random, tiny holes will appear on the wrapping, about the diameter of pencil lead. You’ll also see signs of what you might take for tiny flecks of ash at first.

Those tiny, white flecks are actually the leavings of the beetles after they finished fat-facing your tobacco leaves. You’ll find the overall feeling of finding these signs to be unpleasant, especially if you spent a good deal of money on the cigars.

What causes cigar beetles?

tobacco cigarettesCigar beetles are just like most other living creatures. They want four things above all others—moisture or a source of water, food, to breed, and a place to take shelter. When it comes to cigar beetles, they are most likely enticed by the moisture of your cigar.

This is especially true if you keep your cigars in your Humidor. They can’t get into your Humidor on their own, since these devices are designed with air-tight seals. However, once they are in your cigar and you unknowingly transport them in there.

Once in your Humidor, cigar beetles thrive on the humidity, breathing and eating with reckless abandon. They’ll tear through your cigars quickly, happily warm, moist, and content in their new home—the new home you provided for them.

The increase in temperature inside your Humidor only hastens the breeding and eating process.

Can you still smoke a cigar with beetle holes?

CigarCan you eat rocks? You sure can, but it’s not advisable to do so. They’ll break your teeth after all. The same goes for smoking a cigar that’s been ravaged by cigar beetles. Of course, it won’t hurt you the way that chewing rocks would, but it’s still not the healthiest decision in the world.

  • The cigar’s integrity is compromised
  • You’ll pop beetle eggs as you smoke it
  • You’ll smoke beetle defecation
  • You’ll probably smoke living beetles as well
  • It will taste stale
  • The smoke won’t flow like it normally does

Some of the above make sense because the beetles will punch holes throughout the cigar. Other issues are just downright disgusting. Smoking microscopic beetle poo shouldn’t be high on your bucket list. That’s not including how many dead or still living beetles and eggs you’ll end up smoking as well.

The best thing you can do is toss the entire cigar and chalk up your loss to a learning experience.

How to get rid of them

CigarsGetting rid of or preventing cigar beetles is a lot like dealing with other bugs and home infestations. The first thing you need to do is conduct a thorough cleaning of your Humidor. If ten cigars out of 50 are affected, it’s worth considering tossing the whole bunch.

If there are just a few remaining cigar beetles in the good cigars, they will reinfest your Humidor and any additional cigars you place in there. An alternative to this would be to wrap and freeze the cigars that still look okay.

Wrap them up in a Ziploc bag, vacuum seal them, and place them in your freezer. This will kill any cigar beetle stragglers. Don’t instantly thaw your cigars though. Place them in the fridge after a few days in the freezer, so they thaw gradually.

As far as the Humidor, a complete, interior cleaning will do. In the future, don’t leave any cigars laying around the house that might end up back in your Humidor. Once you have it cleaned out, there is no way they can get in on their own if it’s closed.

The air-tight seal is more than enough to thwart even the most aggressive and persistent cigar beetles. Place your good cigars back in the Humidor and only break one out when you’re ready to smoke it. Sometimes, the infestation may be bad enough to break for a new Humidor.

Bottom line

Cigar beetles are a pain in the behind, especially if you are a cigar enthusiast with an extensive collection. Cigar beetles are more than capable of ruining that collection in a hurry. Unfortunately, you can’t keep all of the cigars you collect (for non-smoking purposes) hidden away in a Humidor.

To counteract cigar beetles for collector cigars, consider a glass case that features a good seal. It may not be airtight, but if it’s enough to keep the cigar beetles out, it’s enough for your display purposes.

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