Cigar beetles like to feed on tobacco and their larvae hatch in hot humid conditions, like in a humidor. They can ruin all your cigars in a matter of days but if you have the patience, you can prevent further damage by freezing your cigars.
These teeny tiny bugs are a true nightmare for cigar lovers. The worst part is that you won’t notice them until they’ve already started burrowing through your cigars.
Don’t want to wake up to a bad dream in your humidor? Read on to find out everything you need to know about cigar beetles and how to protect your cigars from these spiteful critters.
Where Do Cigar Beetles Come From?
Cigar beetles (Lasiderma Serricorne) do not magically appear in your humidor or cellophane wrapped cigar. Their most likely point of entry is during the production of the cigar.
The adult females like to nest in tobacco, which is why they’re also called tobacco beetles. At some point during the cigar production, an adult female finds her way into the comforting tobacco and starts to lay eggs – that’s when the trouble starts.
Since these bugs are barely visible to the naked eye, the manufacturer may not notice anything is wrong. However, they are experienced professionals and all commercial brands perform extensive tests to check for cigar beetles. Still, a few can still slip through.
Good cigar manufacturers keep their inventory at a warmish temperature and higher humidity to preserve the quality of the cigars. You place your cigars in a humidor for the very same reason.
Now, the bad news is that the climate inside a humidor is not only ideal for your cigars but potentially also excellent breeding ground for the cigar beetles. The eggs start to hatch at around 72°F, which is not far off from the ideal temperature for cigars. Add to that the high humidity inside the box and you have a colony of cigar beetles in no time.
How Do You Get Rid of Cigar Beetles?
Before you can do anything about this nuisance, you first need to know what to look for. There are two tell-tale signs of cigar beetles in your humidor.
1. White or Black Dust
Start worrying when you notice white or black specks of dust in your cigar box. Take a few cigars and tap them, even if they are still packaged, to check for more dust.
Hate to break it to you but that is not ordinary dust you are seeing – it’s cigar beetle feces. Finding black or white dust falling off your cigars is a sign that the eggs have hatched and larvae are now eating their way through the tobacco. The ‘dust’ is what comes out of their other end; feces.
2. Perfectly Round Pin Holes
No, those are not pin holes made by the manufacturer to give the cigars more air. They were made by cigar beetles and it means that they are spreading to other cigars.
These perfect round holes can be in the cigar itself or the cellophane wrapping (yes, they can eat through cellophane). Just one or two is already a sign that you have little critters roaming around.
So, what to do if you notice one of these signs?
8 Steps To Get Rid of Cigar Beetles
Step 1: Check all cigars for dust and pin holes and immediately separate the ones that are infected.
Step 2: Throw away the worst affected cigars. You can choose the preserve the cigars that don’t show any signs of cigar beetles or don’t seem to be too bad.
Step 3: Place the remaining cigars in an airtight ziploc bag and remove as much excess air as possible. Then, keep the bag of cigars in the freezer.
Step 4: Thoroughly clean the humidor with a damp cloth and let it dry completely. Place extra pieces of cedar inside the humidor if necessary for quickening the drying process.
Step 5: Let the cigars stay in the freezer for approximately 3 days. This is the only proven way to kill the eggs and any live cigar beetles.
Step 6: Remove the cigar bag from the freezer and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This is for a more gentle thawing process which helps keep the integrity of the cigar.
Step 7: Take the cigars out of the ziploc bag and place them back into your cleaned humidor. Let the cigars rest for at least 24 hours but preferably longer.
Step 8: Wipe it down with some alcohol before smoking one of the cigars.
How to Prevent Cigar Beetles
You don’t have to go through those steps if you manage to prevent cigar beetles from hatching in your humidor. The solution is simple: keep your humidor at a maximum of 70°F and 70% humidity.
Also, whenever you have new stock, check each individual cigar for both dust and pin holes. If you notice either of these signs, you might still be able to salvage the cigars by directly placing them in the freezer. Follow the above steps before placing the new cigars in the humidor.
Another important prevention is checking your cigars every few days, even if they passed the first inspection. Since cigar beetles are so small you might not notice them until they have grown in numbers and are spreading to other cigars.
Once they start spreading, it is hard to stop them. You are saving yourself from throwing away the entire stash by checking in every few days.
How Common are Cigar Beetles?
Cigar beetles are not very common. They are pesky things but not impossible to prevent or get rid of.
Cigar manufacturers are perfectly aware of them and do everything that they can to keep their product free of pests. The problem is not so much that they common but rather that they easily spread inside a humidor.
As long as you check cigars before placing them inside the humidor and inspect them again every few days, you should be okay. This reduces the chances of cigar beetles running rampant.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Temperature Do Cigar Beetles Hatch?
Cigar beetles begin hatching around 72°F and they like the high humidity levels in humidors, too. That is why it is recommended not to let your humidor go above 70°F and 70% humidity.
How Long Does It Take for a Cigar Beetle to Hatch?
It takes approximately 6 – 10 days for cigar beetle eggs to hatch into larvae. As soon as they hatch, they begin eating away at the tobacco inside the cigars.
Can Cigar Beetles Eat Through Cellophane?
Yes, cigar beetles can eat through cellophane. If you notice small perfectly round holes in a cellophane wrapper then you might be dealing with cigar beetles.
Finding cigar beetles in your cigars and humidor is a very sad thing. You were probably looking forward to a relaxing smoke only to discover either pin holes in the cigars or dust coming off them.
Cigar beetles are quite difficult to detect. Most people don’t notice them until the larvae have begun eating the tobacco or spread to other cigars. That is why it is so important to check cigars before placing them inside the humidor.
Act quickly if you notice one of the telltale signs. Although freezing might affect the texture and flavor of your cigar, it is also the safest way to get rid of them.
There is still a vivid debate on whether it is still safe to smoke cigars that are not too damaged by cigar beetles. The choice is up to you. Can you get past the image of cigar beetle feces?