Lasioderma serricorne (Fabricius, 1792)

Synonym(s) : 

  • Lasioderma castaneum Melsheimer, 1845 
  • Lasioderma testaceum Stephens, 1835.

Common names

  • Vrillette du tabac, Lasioderme du Tabac
  • Cigarette beetle Tobacco beetle
  • Escarabajo del tabaco
  • Zigarettenkäfer


  • Order:  Coleoptera
  • Family:  Ptinidae
  • Genus:  Lasioderma
  • Species:  serricorne

Frequency index:

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The Anobiidae family is mostly composed of species whose food diet is mainly xylophagous.
Tobacco beetles, like bread beetles (Stegobium paniceum), are the exception to the rule for they are polyphagous insects. Tobacco beetle adults are frequent in natural environments, and well-trained eyes can spot them flying, from early spring through to October in some cases, late in the evening and at dusk. Unlike Stegobium paniceum, whose larvae only are harmful, both tobacco beetle adults and larvae cause considerable damage.
They are attracted to any kind of artificial light and it is easy to trap them (and thus reduce populations) using light traps. When temperatures drop below 17°C, their activity is reduced. Three thousand and five hundred-year-old specimens of the species have been found in some Egyptian tombs, including Tutankhamun’s.    

Recognition criteria



2.2 to 3 mm long.


Sturdy ; oval, rounded shape.
Thorax and elytra covered in an inconspicuous pubescence of yellow-coloured flat bristles pointing to the rear end.
Finely punctuated pronotum and elytra, so that striation is barely visible, unlike in Stegobium paniceum.
Eleven-articled antennae; triangular, serrate articles (unlike in Stegobium paniceum).
At rest, head, thorax and appendices are concealed under the abdomen, which gives the insect (in profile view) a characteristic aspect that makes it possible to tell it from all the other species of the Anobidae family dealt with in this site.


Uniform and hued, ranging from chestnut yellow to brown, red-brown included



0.55 mm (new-born) to 4 mm at the last stage.


Look like small, curved, white grubs; body covered in fairly long bristles, small but quite visible legs.


Hued, ranging from white to yellowish ; tend to get darker as they get older. Blackish mandibles, light brown head.

Development cycle

It lasts 70 days on an average, depending on ambient temperature and hygrometry.
In damp tropical regions, where development conditions are optimal (30 to 35°C and 70% humidity), there can be 5 or 6 generations per year, whereas in our more temperate climates and in Europe there are only 3.
Mating takes place 2 days after adults’ emergence, and 48 hours later, females lay their eggs (between 45 and 120) in small cracks of the nutrient substrate. The egg-laying period stretches over 3 weeks. If temperatures are between 27 and 33°C, incubation requires 7 days, but when temperatures are lower, the incubation period is longer. As soon as they have hatched, new-born larvae bore galleries into their nutrient substrate, sometimes at a distance from their hatching place
There are 4 larval stages and the full larval development cycle lasts between 30 and 110 days. Temperature plays a key role on cycle length.
Once their development is over, larvae confine themselves to a nymphosis cell built within the material they previously fed on. That is where nymphosis takes place, and after a last molt, newly-formed adults remain in their cell for a few days before taking flight.
When temperatures are below 15°C (especially in winter), larvae markedly slow down their activity and resume their normal development once temperatures are milder again.
Tobacco beetle spreading is impeded by many predaceous insects that eat them or infest their larvae, especially by some Coleopterans from the Corynetidae and Cleridae families.
As a whole, adults’ lifetime does not exceed 6 weeks and mainly depends on the temperature of the medium they live in.

Infected materials

Tobacco beetles are No 1 enemies of full-leaved tobacco, cigarettes and cigars, and they have a special liking for soft tobaccos from Turkey.
That omnivorous species develops to the expense of a considerable number of other animal or plant products, such as: manioc (cassava), rice, dried fruit, sweet potatoes, peanuts, certain spices (paprika, safran) and even opium, along with biscuits, dried plants and flowers, dried fish, guano, and even some medicinal drugs.
It is frequent in bakeries and in biscuit and chocolate factories.
Museum curators particularly dread them for they are a true threat to books, parchments, book-bindings, tapestries, velvet, silk materials, and more particularly insect and herb collections.
It is hard to detect their presence for the galleries bored by adults and larvae are filled up with a mix of substrate dust and excrements (bore-dust).

Geographical distribution

Originally from the tropical regions of the American continent, tobacco beetles are now found worldwide.