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how to use diatomaceous earth for pest control

How to use diatomaceous earth for pest control

Diatomaceous earth is composed of minute sea organisms known as Diatoms. The skeletons of these aquatic organisms are made from a natural element called Silica. in this post we will learn how to use diatomaceous earth for pest control.

For a long time now, diatoms have gathered and accumulated in riverbeds, lakes, oceans, and some streams. These days people are mining the silica deposits from the aforementioned areas.


Silica by weight makes up about 26% of the earth’s crust. Emerald, Quartz, Mica, clay, asbestos, glass, and sand are the most components found in Silica.

Silicon oxide occurs are a reaction of oxygen and water, and it occurs in two natural forms; amorphous and crystalline. Diatomaceous Earth(DE) comprises amorphous dioxide and contains low amounts of silicon dioxide.

The first pesticide product made from silicon dioxide was invented in the early 1960s and it was used to terminate mites and other scurrying insects.


Diatomaceous earth occurs in different colors, each color signifying the regional difference of the diatomite deposits. The color ranges from light grey to white to brown. The diatomaceous earth is graded according to its purity and the amounts of the minerals present in it.

Diatomaceous earth is available in two forms, the pool grade, and food grade. Pool grade is treated under high heats that then turn the silica dioxide into crystalline silica.

This process accentuates the filtering qualities of the diatomaceous earth thus making it harmful to the respiratory organs.

Food grade diatomaceous earth is made from freshwater form diatomite. It causes minimal lung irritation if one is overexposed.

Most homeowners prefer the food-grade DE because it is cost-effective and also an important tool in pest management.

Presently, there are more than 100 registered products made from DE for use inside and outside farms, gardens, homes, and pet homes. These products are used to repel against cockroaches, fleas, ticks, spiders, bed bugs, and many other pests.

How does diatomaceous earth work?

Diatomaceous earth is made in such a way that when ingested by the pests, it causes them to dry out and die by absorption of the oils and fat found in the insect’s skeleton.

Diatomaceous earth has sharp edges that are abrasive and thus speed up the drying and dying process. DE will remain effective so long as it is kept free from moisture (water) and left undisturbed.

People can breathe in the Diatomaceous earth dust in the air, get in on their skin or eyes through the application of the dust, or when they enter a treated area before the Diatomaceous earth dust has settled.

Exposure can also occur when children and pets get in contact with the Diatomaceous earth dust. To reduce minimum contact with the dust it advisable for one to read and follow the directions to the later.

Silicon is the main component of diatomaceous earth. It is the second richest element in soil. It is also found in plants and plays a big role in plant growth and development. Due to its chemical component, DE cannot be degraded by microbes or sunlight.

Unclacined DE is an effective pesticide and it resembles hollow cylinders covered with spikes. These spikes make the DE a very efficient constraining against a wide range of insects.

Whenever an insect treads over the DE dust, the minute spikes penetrate the waxy layer over the insect’s body.

This will in turn create a wound and the insect’s body fluids will start coming out. The absorbent nature of the DE dust works in two ways; injuring the insect while drawing out the fluids to dry and eventually kill it.

The insect death is not instantaneous but will happen over a short period of time. For better and effective results the diatomaceous earth powder should be left undisturbed for more than 24 hours and after 5 days the results will be clearly seen.

How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is recommended to be used outside the home. You only need to apply a thin layer of the DE in the areas you want to repel the pests.

These areas include flower beds, or around the house foundation, lawn, beside the edges of the patio, door thresholds, or anywhere you want to control bugs.

There are only two ways in which one can apply the diatomaceous earth.

  1. Put on a pair of gloves and a mask, toss a handful into the areas you need to control the bugs.
  2. Load the DE into a dust spreader and spread around. Also, it is noteworthy you will still need a mask on when using the spreader.

Factors to put into consideration for the effective success of the diatomaceous earth.

  • Type of insect
  • Size of infestation
  • Temperature and humidity.

Due to its absorbent nature, excess moisture or rain will limit its effectiveness. DE will be less effective if applied too lightly.

It is noteworthy that all insects are vulnerable to DE, even the good ones.

When gardening, try to limit your application to wherever the pests exist and not where beneficial insects thrive. Never apply to flowers or ground beetle habitation.

When applied correctly, diatomaceous earth is:

  • Nontoxic to pets or humans
  • A multipurpose pest management tool
  • Inexpensive

To achieve maximum and efficient results follows these prompts to the latter.

  1. Identify the pest and their territory. Check behind furniture, fridges, crevices where floors meet walls, at the back of cupboards, and along windowsills.
  2. Using a teaspoon, pour DE in lines that insects will be likely to cross. The more DE they come into contact with, the sooner they’ll die. Leave these lines in place. Never sweep, vacuum, or get wet. Apply DE deliberately behind or under furniture and appliances, with an eye toward places the vacuum does not reach.
  3. Insects, more so, ants change routes if they detect a dangerous substance. Monitor the insect’s behavior and follow up on your original application if you discover they’re not crossing the existing paths of DE.
  4. Never apply generally or sprinkle lightly. Thin applications result in not enough contact with the insects. Make sure you are making dense lines crossing insect’s routes of passage.
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