A mealybug infestation can be devastating to your garden and can cause dozens of plants to die in clusters.
These pests are covered in white fuzz and can leave behind a black, soot-like residue on plants that they are attacking.
Can mealybugs bite or infect humans? Is there any danger to being around a mealybug infestation?
In this article, we’ll look at how mealybug infestations work, and whether there is any danger to humans.
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Are Mealybugs Harmful to Humans?
Mealybugs are not harmful to humans. They do not bite humans, and cannot infect humans the way they infect plants. If you are working in the garden around a mealybug infection, you don’t need to worry about contact with them.
Mealybugs are fearsome pests, but they are vegetarians and aren’t at all interested in humans.
According to the University of Florida mealybugs infest foliage plants.
Although they can severely decimate your plants, they won’t bite you and aren’t able to attach to you or live on your body.
Mealybugs are designed exclusively to function on plants, and if they are surviving in your home it is because they are living on a houseplant.
They cannot survive on humans. They also can’t cause the kind of infection on your body that they cause plants.
The decay that is caused on leaves is the result of a process that only affects leaves, and can never spread to or affect humans.
This doesn’t mean that mealybugs are 100% harmless to everyone.
In some cases, mealybugs can aggravate allergies and cause health complications.
However, this is an indirect form of harm that doesn’t affect the majority of gardeners.
Mealybugs and Allergies
Mealybugs are known for their fuzzy white appearance.
Technically, only females have this coating, which is a kind of sugar that is excreted when it can’t be metabolized.
This sugary coating is called “honeydew” and it is a common allergen.
If you are working around a mealybug infestation and you have a honeydew allergy.
You might notice redness and skin irritation, or throat and lung irritation and shortness of breath.
Honeydew affects some people when they inhale it, and others when their skin comes into contact with it.
Honeydew also rubs off onto leaves and adheres there, growing a gray back variety of mold that is also an allergen.
If you are sensitive to honeydew or mold you might be harmed by being around a mealybug infestation,
but the majority of people are capable of working closely around mealybugs without having any adverse health effects whatsoever.
Safety Around Mealybugs
The allergens that mealybugs produce affect humans primarily through skin irritations and respiratory problems.
If you worry that you might be affected, you should wear gloves and a mask when working around infected plants.
The mealybugs themselves and the infected leaves are not dangerous unless you have an allergy, in which case it makes sense to take very basic precautions.
Frequently Asked Questions about Mealybugs
Can Mealybugs Live In Your House?
Mealybugs can enter your home in several ways, and once they have arrived it can be hard to get them to leave.
In hot climates and the summer months, they can be persistent. Even if you have cleaned off an infected plant, you might see it reinfected soon after.
Does this mean that mealybugs are living somewhere else in your house? Can they live on the carpet, in fabrics, or the walls?
Mealybugs are excellent travelers. The young females and males of all ages are equipped with wings, so they can fly from one plant to another or drift into your home through an open window.
However, they aren’t comfortable setting up home anywhere except a plant.
Female mealybugs like to find a safe place on the underside of a leaf to stay still. Nothing other than an organic leaf will do.
If mealybugs are living in your house, it is because they are living in and on your houseplants and flying back and forth between them. You can quarantine them and clean them off completely, but it’s still possible that mealybugs will find their way in from outside and reinfect them.
Can Mealybugs Live on Clothes?
No, mealybugs can’t live on clothes for any length of time.
However, they can and they will hitch a short ride from one garden to another using your sweater.
Mealybugs need to feed on plants, so they can’t infect your clothing, but they will move from one plant to another by hopping onto humans or animals.
What Virus is Transmitted by Mealybugs?
Mealybugs are unfortunately a source of several different diseases – for plants.
No virus affects humans that are transmitted by mealybugs.
Plants should be worried though – mealybugs are known to spread cocoa swollen shoot virus, cocoa mottle leaf virus, banana streak virus, grapevine leafroll-associated virus, and pineapple mealybug wilt-associated virus.
Mealybugs don’t bite humans, so they wouldn’t be very likely to transmit a virus anyway.
They don’t carry or transmit any human viruses, and none of these frightening plant diseases can transfer to humans. They are fundamentally different.
Conclusion on Are Mealybugs Harmful to Humans
Mealybugs are not harmful to most humans because they are plant pests that are built to feed on plants and are not particularly suited to biting or living on humans or animals.
In some cases, humans are allergic to honeydew, a residue that covers female mealybugs, and the mold that this leftover residue can create on leaves.
If you notice respiratory issues or skin irritation while working around a mealybug infestation, this could be the reason and it would be a good idea to take greater precautions or stop working in the area completely.
For most people, mealybugs are harmless – except when it comes to the damage caused to plants.
Mealybugs are a scary pest that can infect dozens of plants and cause frightening damage, but they pose little danger to humans apart from potential allergens.
They don’t bite humans, they can’t live on human clothes or in houses without attaching to house plants, and they