You may love your new cigar box, but did you know it could harbor a secret predator? Many cigar enthusiasts have opened their cigar box and been shocked and mortified to find their precious cigars destroyed by the Lasioderma Serricorne, the tobacco beetle. These beetles love eating your prized cigars. They don’t have a preference to where you purchased your cigar, they can be packaged or imported and they will feast either way.
So what is the cigar beetle and where did it come from? The cigar beetle, better known as a tobacco beetle, lives in any country that produces tobacco. This beetle lives on tobacco plants, swarming over the leaves and destroying them like the plague. Tobacco beetles live in hot climates and are especially prominent in Caribbean countries that just so happen to be the largest producers of tobacco. The larvae of the tobacco beetles are white and about 4 mm long. Once the larvae hatch, they begin eating their way through tobacco leaves. The tobacco beetle is a survivor and has been known to live through the cigar’s fermentation and production process. Many tobacco farmers have tried to kill off the tobacco beetles using gases and repellents; however, the beetles are strong and resistant.
Some tobacco beetles make it all the way through to the finished product. In this case, cigar lover would open their boxes and find their beloved cigars have holes all over them. You can often detect the presence of this pest by the small punctures wounds in the wrapper. The holes left by the tobacco beetles can turn a beautiful cigar into something that looks like a flute.
There is hope; you can save your cigars even if they have been attacked by the relentless cigar beetle. The best method is to use your microwave as a way to fight back and kill the lingering larvae. Before you start killing off larvae, throw out the cigars that have been destroyed; the remaining cigars can still be saved. Place the remaining cigars in the microwave, all together for the best results, and cook for around three minutes. After they have been heated up, move them immediately to the freezer and leave them there for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove them from the freezer and allow them to thaw completely at room temperature. Once thawed, place them in a humidor. Research has shown this method works to remove any remaining beetles from your collection. When you are ready to smoke, open your humidor and look closely at each individual cigar. If there is no further evidence of infestation, it is safe to light one up.