The oval, brown-red beetles are 2 to 4 mm long. What makes them distinctive is the fact that their head is hidden under the pronotum. This is typical of the entire family of woodworm beetles (fam. Anobiidae), which also includes the drugstore beetle (Stegobium paniceum) and the common furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum) – the dreaded wood pest. The antennae are slightly serrated.
The crepuscular beetles are good flyers and orientate themselves towards the light in the evening.
While the beetle does not feed, the yellowish-white larvae, which are up to 4 mm long and have a dense coat of hair, can cause damage when they feed on stored plant-based goods. They develop and reproduce on tobacco and tobacco products as they can break down and therefore detoxify nicotine with the help of symbionts in the intestine.
The thermophilic species is widespread in the tropics but it can be found all over the world due to trade. In Central Europe, it can only be found in the warm areas where people live and cannot survive the winter outdoors.
Most damage is caused by the larvae when they feed. They primarily affect tobacco and tobacco products, but also drugs, dried fruit, cocoa, spices and much more. The beetles themselves do not feed anymore but can still damage packaging.