When it comes to pest control, there is an endless battle between using chemical based products and natural solutions.

Diatomaceous earth is one of those natural solutions starting to gain popularity.

This article is a synopsis of a larger guide on the uses, benefits and safety precautions of diatomaceous earth.

For the full article, please click here.

To get a high-level overview as well as of the do’s and don’ts of this powder, continue reading!

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

In a nutshell, diatomaceous earth or “DE” is made of silica, which are fossilized remains of microscopic aquatic plants called diatoms.

Manufacturers collect the diatoms, purify them, and then resell them as diatomaceous earth.

There are multiple grades such as:

  • Food grade (purest form is edible and used in food production)
  • Pest control grade (DE with additional chemicals added to help kill pests)
  • Filter grade (for swimming pools)

Pest control DE is classified as desiccant, which means it absorbs moisture from insects’ bodies causing them to dry out and eventually die. Often manufacturers will add additional chemicals to attract bugs into the dust.

Although DE is non-toxic and edible, it can still be dangerous when inhaled through the mouth or nose.

For example, some homeowners and facility managers will take it upon themselves to spread DE around their premises in hopes to help with pest control issues at a low cost.

Due to prevalence of inaccurate or incomplete information on the internet this almost always results in more harm than good by inadvertently spreading the colony around into new areas or getting people sick.

Below are some quick do’s and don’ts that should help most people with proper application of this natural dust.

Do’s & Don’ts

The Do’s

  • Spread the powder in areas where it will be undisturbed (e.g., away from window sills, minimal foot traffic, away from ventilation)
  • Use an applicator to ensure you create a thin even coating in affected areas. The layer should almost be invisible
  • Clean up the DE with a wet cloth after use

The Don’ts

  • Over apply the powder. Large piles will result in your bugs walking around the piles instead of through them.
  • Just use DE. If you have a pest problem DE should be used as a part of a larger pest control plan for your premises in coordination with a licensed exterminator.
  • Breathe in the powder. DE contains microscopic particles known as amorphous silica that can damage your lungs when inhaled.
  • Use DE outdoors. As soon as it rains it will wash away any dust you applied.


Final Thoughts On Diatomaceous Earth

Overall diatomaceous earth can be a great natural pest control method is used properly and according to its label.

Just be sure to consult a licensed exterminator before applying the dust or else you risk making your pest problem worse.


Written by: Shane Dutka of Pest Strategies for Tedesco Building Services



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