Cigar Maintenance: What Is A Cigar Beetle?
A cigar beetle (or tobacco beetle) is a species of insect approximately 2-3mm long that thrives in warm, dry climates, and eats any dry organic material. It therefore commonly takes up residence inside cigars and their storage containers. Although relatively uncommon in the UK, cigar beetle infestations can still be a problem.
While the beetles themselves are not harmful to humans or pets, they do have a nasty tendency to feed on, and destroy prized collections of cigars, and therefore, can be a serious nuisance for any cigar aficionado.
But before we talk about how to detect, remove and prevent these pests, it would be helpful to know a bit about the cigar beetle’s life cycle.
The typical lifespan of a beetle is between 40 and 90 days. Female beetles will penetrate and lay up to 100 eggs inside your cigar. Larvae will then hatch between 6-10 days later, and spend the next 30-40 days eating their way to maturity – destroying your cigar, before reproducing and starting the life cycle all over again.
With the potential for such damage and rapid infestation, cigar beetles pose a significant threat to any cigar collection.
So how do you tell if your cigars are infested with these pesky critters?
- Closely examine your cigars.
The female beetle will chew its way through the leaf of the cigar and lay its eggs inside. So if you notice one or more pinhead-sized holes in any of your cigars, it’s a sign that there may be an infestation.
- In more severe cases, you will find dust in your storage container or humidor.
What to do if you suspect an infestation?
Don’t panic, in most cases the bulk of your cigar collection can be saved relatively easily, quickly and cheaply.
As mentioned, cigar beetles like warm climates, and fortunately they perish in very cold ones.
So to destroy the beetles, eggs, and larvae, simply place your cigars in zip-lock bags and place them in the freezer for a few days. After this time, transfer your cigars (still in bags) from the freezer to the fridge for another day or so, before taking them out and slowly returning them slowly to room temperature.
Note: This intermediary step is to prevent damage to your cigars caused by sudden temperature changes.
It is essential that you do this to all of your cigars stored within proximity of the suspect cigar, even the ones with no visible signs of infestation, as a single surviving egg or beetle will simply re-infest your collection.
Once the cigars have returned to normal temperature, they are safe to smoke again. Although it should be noted, any external holes made by the beetles may need to be manually plugged by your fingers while smoking. So depending on your attachment to or attitude towards your damaged cigar, it can of course simply just be thrown away.
There are a number of simple steps that can be taken to help minimise the risk of infestation:
- Visually inspect all new cigars for signs of infestation before storing them with your existing collection
- Ensure your cigars are not stored in temperatures above 21°C (70°F)
- Regularly inspect your collection for signs of infestation
Finally, and although not ideal as the process does increase the risk of damage to your precious cigars…
- You can simply freeze any cigar you purchase before adding it to the rest of your collection
We hope you’ve found this guide helpful, for further information on cigar beetles don’t hesitate to contact us on……