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Miscellaneous Food-Infesting Beetles: Cigarette, Drugstore and Spider Beetles

Both the cigarette beetle, and drugstore beetle, are small (3mm or 1/3 inch), brownish-red, convex beetles that infest many types of dried plant and animal materials. They can be found in red pepper, paprika and other spices, drugs tobacco, teas, and other dried foods (dried beans, coffee beans, flour, dates, biscuits, peanuts, meal, breakfast cereals, and dry dog food). They also can feed on wool hair, leather, horn, paper, and museum specimens. The larvae are whitish C-shaped grubs with well-developed legs. The larvae can bore into packages to find food. The products, or in the case of the cigarette beetle (which can fly) at lights and windows. The entire life cycle, from egg to adult, takes about 7 months. There may be one to four generations per year.

The spider beetles are appropriately named. They attract attention because of their peculiar, spider- like form (long spindly legs and antennae, and globose body). They occasionally infest stored products; both the larvae and adults are active feeders. They feed on a variety of plant and animal products and have been known to attack flour, feeds, cereals, grains, seeds, dried fruits, meats, wool, hair and miscellaneous foodstuffs. Most spider beetles have two or three generations per year.

Integrated Household Beetle Management

Purchase susceptible foodstuffs in quantities that can be used in a short time: 2-4 months, if possible. When purchasing packaged food, be certain the containers are not broken or unsealed and that there are no signs of infestation. Check the packages for freshness dates. Once the food is in the home, use older packages before newer ones, and opened ones before unopened ones. Storing died foods in a freezer will prevent insect development. Keep food storage and preparation areas clean at all times; spilled and exposed food attracts insects.

Control of both of these pests is fairly easy, once the source of infestation is found. Disposal of the infested foodstuffs or other items, with a thorough clean-up is usually all that is required for control.

For a complete listing of suggested control options for all home, yard and garden insect pests contact your local Extension Service, found under local government in the phone book.

Read and follow instructions on the pesticide label. Heed all warnings. Check with your physician if you have any concerns regarding your personal health risk.


Revised by Tom Ellis, M.S., Department of Entomology

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This information is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned. This information becomes public property upon publication and may be printed verbatim with credit to MSU Extension. Reprinting cannot be used to endorse or advertise a commercial product or company.

MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer. Michigan State University Extension programs and materials are open to all without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, age, height, weight, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, marital status, family status or veteran status. Issued in furtherance of MSU Extension work, acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thomas G. Coon, Director, MSU Extension, East Lansing,MI 48824. This information is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by MSU Extension or bias against those not mentioned.

This information.was reviewed as of June 2008.  For more information about the contents please contact for webpage problems .