Are Mealybugs Harmful To Humans? [Separating Facts from Fiction]

You are in the garden, calmly checking on your plants and suddenly you notice some fluffy, white insects on the leaves of one of your plants. Upon examination, you come to learn that they’re mealybugs. Now the next thing that comes to your mind is – are mealybugs harmful to humans?

As you recall reading that they can damage other plants in the vicinity, various thoughts start to stir in your mind. Without any shadow of a doubt, some insects can be dangerous for humans if they sting them. 

But you are not sure if mealybugs actually fall into this category.

And you wonder, “Are they equally hazardous to humans?” OR “Do they carry any diseases that can be risky to you and your small kids?”

The short answer is No

Mealybugs aren’t a cause for any serious concern & don’t threaten humans. But, direct contact with them can cause itching and skin irritation in people with waxy secretions sensitivity.

Generally, they are poisonous for crops and many other plants.

Let’s dig right into the dangers Mealybugs can cause, how they affect humans and pets, and what to do if you’re in this situation;

The Harmful Effects of Mealybug Infestations on Human Health

Are Mealybugs Harmful To Humans?

There have been rare cases where these tiny creatures spread bacterial infections to humans. These cases are usually an issue for large-scale growers, such as vineyards.

Have a look below to grasp how mealybug infestations negatively affect humans:

  • Allergies To Mealybug Honeydew

The excrement of mealybug is also referred to as honeydew. 

It sounds really nice. Right?

But in reality, it’s not that sweet and light! Believe me.

It’s a sugary, sticky substance that makes the plants irritating. Thus, some people can have issues with rashes or skin redness if it gets on the skin.

If you accidentally touch it, it’s better to wash your hands immediately. Or, you can simply wear gloves when you deal with a specific mealybug-infested plant.

Either way, you’ll be able to get rid of the discomfort that the sticky stuff will cause.

Note: Make sure you wash off all the tools you use to remove mealybugs. Also, take proper care of the infected plant to get the adhesive residue off of them.

  • Unfavorable Reactions To Mold

The honeydew that these insects excrete can lead fungi and mold to grow on the plants. This will, of course, cause health issues if you breathe it in.

Get this problem fixed as soon as possible when you notice any clear signs of it!

It is not just important to preserve your plant’s health but also for your safety and health. Ultimately, it can help protect you against potential hazards that may arise from infected plants.

  • Financial Loss

Buying plants and then taking care of them requires your attention, time, and money. And if your plant dies due to mealybug infestation, you’ll have thrown your money down the drain. 

Depending on the severity of the issue, you may have to call an expert to remove all the pests. This will cost you even more money.

Obviously, it’ll not affect humans physically—but still, it’s something to keep in mind.

Always nip the mealybug issue beforehand. This will ensure that you have spent your hard-earned money smartly while buying a plant.

What other dangers do Mealybugs pose to Humans?

As I said earlier, mealybugs aren’t really dangerous as they don’t bite. Yet, we cannot deny the fact that they can spread harmful bacteria, like honeydew.

They won’t affect you or your family as long as you take effective steps to get rid of them.

But yes, they can impact humans in some other ways. 

As they devastatingly wipe out crops, they can have unforeseen consequences for farmers. In most cases, mealybugs are actually more annoying than dangerous.

This is because they quickly reproduce and infest the plants. Another amazing fact is that a female mealybug lays 600 eggs at a time.

Yes, you heard that right!

Things become even more difficult to handle when they start to attract other insects, like ants, that feed on eggs. This poses more risks to people, as they can sting.

Quarantine the affected plant to protect your other houseplants from this infestation. Keep young children away from the area to avoid unfavorable outcomes.

If you’re a pet owner, you will definitely want to make sure that your pets do not catch this infection anyway. Let’s examine whether your pets are safe from mealybugs or if you need to take precautions in their case, too.

Beyond Humans: Do Mealybugs Affect Your Beloved Pets

Thankfully, they won’t harm your pets. However, if you use chemicals to eliminate bug infestation, those toxic chemicals could harm the pets if ingested.

If you own a pet, it’s better to use a non-chemical and natural way to control it!

Using 70% rubbering alcohol, oil, or soap is an excellent way to treat it. This way, you won’t have to use so many pernicious substances.

A soapy spray is one of the ideal non-toxic methods if you want to treat mealybugs right away. 

Mix a half teaspoon of soap with almost 2 cups of lukewarm water, and then add it to the sprayer.

You need to spray every inch of the plant once a week for a month to eradicate this infestation in the best way possible.

In the end, I would say that prevention is better than cure. Try to keep your plants pest-free and pet-friendly to avoid any toxicity.

How Do You Examine If You Have a Mealybug Allergy?

Mealybugs suck up from the plant and cause it to die. Though rare, these can also lead to allergic reactions in humans.

The honeydew and dusty power contain chemical complexes that irritate touch or inhalation.

Long-term exposure to mealybugs can result in the following:

  • Eye irritation (Conjunctivitis)
  • Itching (Urticaria)
  • Nasal irritation (Rhinitis)
  • Chest tightness & wheeze

If you’re noticing the same signs, it might be possible that you’ve caught this allergy.

In this case, immediately consult with an allergist for further testing. This allergy isn’t common as other kinds of allergies, but if you don’t treat it timely, it can become fatal.

Now that you have found that your plant is dying of this allergy, it’s time to follow the best measures to treat it. Stay along to explore more!

The Battle Against Mealybugs: Winning the War with Proven Methods

Getting rid of mealybugs needs a combination of two things. One is preventing their spread to other plants. And the second one is eradicating the infestation.

But wait—things don’t end there! 

Because of their sticky, waxy coating, these tiny insects will not make it simple for you. Mealybugs need a course of chemical or biological control if you want to remove them.

Depending on whether you’re an organic gardener or prefer using chemicals, you have a lot of options.

  1. First, identify the root of this problem and examine if you have a mealybug infection.
  2. Now, separate the infected plant from other healthy plants when you observe this infestation. Remember that the isolation part is the most important one!
  3. You can also consider a heavy insecticide. However, it’s not recommended if you live with children and pets.
  4. Diatomaceous earth and coffee grounds are effective treatments for soil infestations.
  5. Essential oils like Lemongrass Oil, Rosemary Oil, or Cedar Oil are another perfect method for organically treating mealybugs and other garden pests like gnats and aphids. A solution of limonene, ginger oil, and Neem oil will prove noxious to these insects.
  6. If you want to get satisfying results, you can also buy organic insecticide. Meanwhile, look for the ones that utilize fatty acids and plant oils.
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Organic gardeners can harness mealybugs’ natural predators to keep their numbers down.

You can contact a pest control expert and let them treat the infestation if you don’t feel like doing it.

If all else fails, a professional can undeniably identify the cause of this infestation and simply get it under control.

Final Thoughts

So, are mealybugs dangerous to human beings?

While they are not really dangerous in terms of health, they’ll definitely harm your wallet.

So, it’s better to examine everything twice – so you’re not sorry later on after seeing your garden full of mealybugs.

Next time you notice a mealybug lurking on the plants, take immediate precautions and do not feel upset about it! They do not bite or sting. 🙂

By following only a few simple steps, you can ensure that your plants are healthy and pest-free!

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