Cigarette Beetle

2015 July 18

Sandy found this tiny beetle crawling on her computer keyboard on January 12, 2015. It was only about 2 mm long, if that.

It appears to be a Cigarette Beetle, Lasioderma serricorne.

Since it was so small, I was at high magnification with correspondingly small depth-of-field, and this is another one of those beetles that is so 3-dimensional that it was hard to get it all in focus at once.

It tucked up into a tiny little pellet when disturbed, but would eventially unroll itself.

It was surprisingly flexible once it started opening up. Incidentally, the many-segmented, serrated antennae distinguishes it from the superficially-similar “Drugstore Beetle”, which lives in similar environments.

Cigarette beetles are well-known for infesting tobacco products, although they will eat pretty much any dry plant matter like herbs and spices. They evidently are pretty resistant to chemicals like nicotine, which a lot of plants (notably tobacco) originally evolved to kill the things that try to eat them. Cigarette beetles probably originated in Africa, and can only live outdoors in tropical regions, although they have been carried around the world living in peoples homes, food preparation facilities, and warehouses of all sorts. They aren’t actually related to carpet beetles, but they do kind of resemble them in both their body shape and lifestyle.

[1] And, like so many other plants with defensive chemicals, the tobacco plants ended up making themselves into a product that humans want. When you get down to it, most of the spices and drugs that we currently cultivate plants to obtain, were originally evolved by the plants to keep things from eating them. Of course, being considered tasty or useful by humans has turned out to be an excellent survival strategy – our crops and domesticated animals are way more successful than their wild ancestors ever dreamed of being.

Comments are closed.