How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Organic Pest Control

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) products cut into insects’ bodies, causing them to die naturally of dehydration.

| April 24, 2013

  • When buying DE to use around your house, be sure to buy a product listed as “food grade.”
    Photo Courtesy Safer Brand

This article is part of our Organic Pest Control Series, which includes articles on attracting beneficial insects, controlling specific garden pests, and using organic pesticides.

What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powder made from fossilized prehistoric crustaceans called diatoms. The sharp edges of DE cut into insects’ bodies, causing them to die of dehydration. Diatomaceous earth is most useful in dry situations — for example, puffing it into crevices where cockroaches have been seen. In the first few days after their habitat is treated, cockroaches may become more visible as they desperately search for water, but will die within two weeks. DE becomes less effective when wet, yet still can be used in the garden to make life difficult for newly emerged Japanese beetles or cutworms. In dry weather, DE spread beneath plants will kill slugs.

DE makes an excellent filter material and has numerous industrial uses. When buying DE to use around your house, be sure to buy a product listed as “food grade.”



Which Pests Does Diatomaceous Earth Control?

Most indoor invaders, including roaches, silverfish, spiders and even fleas are impacted by DE. Including DE in chickens’ dust bath mixture helps prevent problems with lice. Diatomaceous earth also has many uses around the homestead, as it can help control fleas on dogs and to reduce parasites in horses, pigs and other animals.

LindaBH
7/8/2018 6:57:37 AM

Is Diatomaceous safe for honey bees and will it kill Japanese beetles?.


Nannette
6/16/2018 8:54:37 AM

I read an article on using club soda and diatomaceous yo kill ants in ant hills. I cannot find the article to get the directions. Any help on this?


robertgallegos
5/1/2018 1:17:19 PM

I have a couple questions on use of DE, do I pre-wet the leaves of the bougainvilla first before dusting them?, and can I use it on roses? Bob G







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