If you’ve ever seen something that looks like a piece of white cotton on your indoor or outdoor plants, only to discover that it’s moving, you’ve probably encountered a mealybug.
Mealybugs are insects that can cause a lot of damage to your plants if left unchecked, but can they hurt humans, too?
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Are Mealybugs Harmful to Humans?
Mealybugs don’t bite humans but coming into contact with them can sometimes cause skin irritation, redness, and itching in people who are sensitive to the waxy secretions mealybugs produce.
The name “mealybug” may sound kind of intimidating, but mealybugs don’t bite humans, and while they can spread viruses between plants, these diseases don’t affect humans either.
Plus, these kinds of viruses are typically only a problem for large-scale growers, especially vineyards.
However, just because they’re not very dangerous doesn’t mean that they can’t cause problems.
Also Read: Will Grass Fertilizer Kill Flowers?
How Mealybug Infestations Negatively Affect Humans
Allergies To Mealybug Honeydew
Mealybug excrement is called honeydew, which sounds nice, but it’s not at all.
It’s a sticky, sugary substance that makes your plants sticky, and some people can have problems with skin irritation or rashes if it gets on their skin.
To avoid this, it’s best to wash your hands after coming into contact with the substance.
Or, better yet, just wear gloves when dealing with a mealybug-infested plant.
Either of these should get rid of the discomfort of having that sticky stuff on your skin.
Make sure to also wash off any tools that you use to remove mealybugs or care for the mealybug-infested plant, to get the sticky residue off of them as well.
Adverse Reactions To Mold
The sticky honeydew that mealybugs excrete can cause mold or fungi to grow on your plants, which of course can lead to health problems if you breathe it in.
This is why you should get a mealybug problem fixed as soon as there are any signs of them.
It’s a good idea, not only to preserve the health of the plant but also for your own health and safety and that of the other people who live or work in the space where you keep the plant.
Buying and caring for a plant takes money, and watching that plant then die to a mealybug infestation makes it seem like your hard work and money were all for nothing.
Depending on the severity of the mealybug problem, you may need to call in a professional to remove the pests, which can cost you even more money.
It may not be a physical way that mealybugs can harm humans, but it’s still something to keep in mind.
If you want to make sure that you’ve spent your money wisely when buying a plant, you should make sure to nip a mealybug problem in the bud before it becomes a huge issue that the plant cannot be saved from.
How To Avoid Mealybug Infestations
While mealybugs aren’t super dangerous to humans, they are very dangerous and even fatal to plants if the problem is not dealt with.
And unfortunately, there are almost no plants that are safe from mealybugs.
There are many different species of these insects, which feed on practically every plant you could think about growing.
To keep your plants healthy and your space looking beautiful, here are some things you can do to avoid getting these pests:
Check Your Plants Regularly
Mealybugs like to hide under leaves, so lift leaves and look closely to make sure there are none.
Succulents are especially susceptible, so keep an extra close eye on those.
If you do see the beginnings of an infestation, cut off the infected part of the plant immediately to avoid further spread.
Mealybugs thrive in warm, moist environments.
Mealybugs are attracted to high-nitrogen areas.
Check New Plants And Tools
Look closely at new plants and tools before adding them to the garden or using them, and remove any mealybugs if there are ones there.
Are Mealybugs Harmful To Pets?
Thankfully, mealybugs won’t harm your pets but if you use chemicals to get rid of a bug infestation, those chemicals could harm your pet if ingested.
If you have pets, use a natural, non-chemical way to control mealybug infestations.
Using soap, oil, or rubbing alcohol is a great way to get rid of these pests without the use of too many chemicals.
A simple soapy spray is one of the best non-toxic ways to treat mealybugs.
Just mix half a teaspoon of mild soap with 2 cups of lukewarm water and add it to your sprayer.
Spray every inch of your plant once each week for about a month to completely eradicate a mealybug infestation.
Can You Wash Off Mealybugs?
You can wash off mealybugs by rinsing your plant thoroughly with a high-pressure hosepipe, or in your sink or shower.
Then, inspect your plant for any remaining mealybugs and dab them using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
You can also pick them off with a tweezers or a little bit of sticky tape.
Continue to inspect the plant every couple of weeks or when watering, and squirt a little organic insecticide spray to stop any future infestations before they take hold.
And don’t forget to remove any badly damaged leaves or other plant parts.
So, are mealybugs harmful to humans?
While they aren’t very dangerous in terms of your health and safety, mealybugs can be very harmful to your wallet.
In general, it’s better to just check everything twice so that you’re not sorry later on when you have a garden full of mealybugs and plants that can’t survive because of it.
I hope the tips we’ve given you should help you keep your plants safe from these annoying pests.