Attack of the Tobacco Beetles

I have finally had my first experience with the infamous tobacco beetle. Some may call this the cigarette beetle, cigar beetle or the tobacco beetle. Its actual name is Lasioderma serricorne. For this article, I am going to stick with calling them tobacco beetles. If you smoke cigars long, enough you will more than likely experience the dreaded tobacco beetle. I can tell you from personal experience that finding your cigars used and abused by these annoying tobacco beetles is not a fun experience.

Normally I would not have a problem sharing a cigar or two with a fellow brother of the leaf. However, when that brother of the leaf takes out 12-15 of some of your favorite cigars they are no brother of mine. I was not happy that I lost so many cigars to the tobacco beetles. I ended up removing the cigars from their location and trashed the ones that had any sign of tobacco beetle infestation. The ones that were left untouched by the tobacco beetle needed to be treated but we will go over that treatment later in this article.

Tobacco Beetle Cigar

Preventing Tobacco Beetles

I asked myself how this could happen and where did the tobacco beetle come from? I know the reputable tobacco factories do everything they can to prevent cigar beetle infestations in their tobacco. Some factories fumigate, freeze or remove oxygen from the room to kill these tobacco beetles from infesting the tobacco used in their cigars. Despite all the actions, which these factories take you still, may end up with cigars that have tobacco beetle larvae.

The larvae require warm and moist environment to survive. Therefore, you can easily prevent tobacco beetles by maintaining the proper temperature and humidity in your humidor. The tobacco beetle larvae require temperatures above 72 degrees and humidity levels over 72% to hatch. So keeping your humidor at 70/70 will ensure that you do not end up with a tobacco beetle epidemic in your humidor. I recommend that you take some time and read up on humidor care here.

Tobacco Beetle

The Tobacco Beetle Treatment

First, remove all the cigars in the humidor that you experienced tobacco beetles. You may only have one or two cigars that are actually infested but at this point I would rather be safe than sorry. You want to inspect every cigar for the tobacco beetle holes separate the cigars with signs with from the ones that do not have signs of tobacco beetles.

Personally, I would throw away any cigars that have signs of tobacco beetle infestation. However, I have heard of some that will cut off the infested portions of the cigar and treat the remaing portion for tobacco beetles. This is completely up to you…

Once you have the cigars separated and know what cigars need to be treated you need to put the cigars into plastic ziplock type bags. Once the cigars are in the plastic bags you want to place the cigars into your freezer for the next 48 hours. This process will kill all remaining tobacco beetle regardless of the life cycle process they are in and save the remaining of the cigars.

Be sure to clean the humidor that you found the infested cigars. Again, this may be a good time to go over the details on the proper humidor care and maybe even a chance to re-season your humidor.

Unfreezing the Cigars

Your cigars have been frozen in the icebox for the last 48 hours. This killed off any remaining tobacco beetles that may have been in your cigars. The important thing to remember is not to throw your cigars back into the humidor at this point. Move the cigars that have been in your freezer and place them in the refrigerator for the next FOUR DAYS! It is important that you do not heat up the cigars too quickly. This may cause the wrappers to crack and nobody wants to have a cracked wrapper. Do not get impatient with these steps. Take the time to warm the cigars up slowly.

Once the FOUR days in the fridge are up, I would let the cigars rest for 24 hours outside of the fridge before moving them to my humidor. Again, the reason for this is to ensure that the cigars do not heat up to quickly and start cracking. I would rather be overly cautious in this then have your wrappers start exploding on you.

Once the cigars are in your Humidor I would give them a couple weeks to settle before I start smoking cigars out this humidor. These cigars just went through a lot and need a few weeks to recuperate.

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