The day you open your humidor or go to light your favorite cigar stick and see a small pin-head size hole that is the telltale sign of a tobacco beetle – it will make your heart stop.
All is not lost, just follow these steps.
Step One: Assess the damage
First off, tobacco beetles hardly ever carry a lighter with them – so they have not smoked any of your cigars. Sure, they can be annoying, but if you catch it early enough, the actual damage to you cigar will be minimal.
You have to assume if you have some in your humidor, they are in all the cigars (or could be). It is possible if you catch them soon enough they are only in one drawer or level – but better safe than sorry.
Step Two: Off to the deep-freeze
You are going to want to take the affected cigars (and any you think might be affected) and pack them loosely in Ziploc bags. Pony up for the freezer Ziploc bags if you can find them.
Once you have packed them in the Ziplocs, you are going to want to put them in a deep freezer. I say deep freezer because, if you can, you are going to want a freezer that is below 25 degrees.*
*If you can’t find a deep freezer, it is not the end of the world. Your standard household freezer will work most of the time.
Keep the cigars in the deep freezer for 8-10 days.
Step Three: Move the cigars to the refrigerator.
Yes, I know, some guys will tell you just take them out of the freezer and move on. Frankly, I think it helps the cigar by not going from 25 degrees to 70 degrees in one shot.
Leave them in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Step Four: Return to the humidor
Now, I am going to assume during that time you have cleaned your humidor. It does not do you any good if you return the cigars only to find tobacco beetles waiting for lunch to be delivered.
Clean out drawers and trays. Be sure to remove any trays (tobacco beetles just love to hide at the bottom of the humidor).
Don’t worry; you don’t need a microscope for this venture. Just clean it out (even using a vacuum will work).
Throw the cigars back in the humidor and keep and eye on them. If you don’t see any [new] tobacco beetle evidence in the next 4-6 months you are home free.
How to avoid them in the first place.
Here is the deal about avoiding cigar beetles. At some point you will come across them. It is just a part of nature. You can buy your cigars from the best store around and still end up with one (kind of like winning the lottery in a bad way).
If you bring home cigars that you are concerned with, keep them in a Ziplock in the humidor (think of it as a mini-cigar quarantine).
Some people we know have a whole other cigar humidor for suspect sticks. Although that may be bit overboard, you don’t want to rush to throw in that “It’s a Boy” cigar with your finest rare cigar.