Many smokers, upon opening a pack of cigarettes, have discovered an unusual reason to give up smoking-their favorite filter kings have been reduced to a fine powder. If they sift through the powder they will most likely uncover the culprit-the small white larva of Lasioderma serricorne, the cigarette beetle. The cigarette beetle-which, incidentally, will select fine oriental tobaccos if given a choice-is a member of the family Anobiidae, a group of oval or cylindrical beetles that includes some of the most notorious pests in the insect world.

The Anobiidae, or woodworms, as they are sometimes called, are tiny insects, usually dull brown in color. The prothorax often covers the head like a hood. The antennae are saw-edged, or toothed; each is tipped with a long claw. Several species are notable, in addition to the cigarette beetle, which, by the way, will also eat other dried plant and animal products.

The Death-watch Beetle, Xestobium refovillosum, is the best known member of this family. A wood borer, its reputation stems from the soft tapping sound it makes by rapping its head against the sides of the narrow tunnels it bores in timbers and old furniture. This tapping is actually a mating call. According to legend, however, it is a warning sign of approaching death. It is interesting that this superstition is widely held in almost every country in the world.

The Furniture Beetle, Anobium punctatum, is found in timbers, woodwork, and furniture. Wood invaded by the furniture beetle is soon so laced with tunnels and galleries that it begins to resemble a sponge.

The Drugstore Beetle, Stegobium paniceum, favors leather, cork, drygoods, various drugs, and spices-it is said to thrive on a diet of red pepper. It also attacks collections of mounted insects and animals.

Hedobia imperialis is one of the larger members of the Anobiidae. A long-legged beetle with chocolate brown wing covers, H. imperialis is cloaked in thin white fur. These beetles can often be uncovered by beating hedges and shrubs; this frightens them into flight.


INDEX : Insects   May 27, 2014 09:09:44 AM