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


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.

Scott
7/29/2015 11:09:04 PM

I do have a question though, on a EPA website, they urge you not to use food grade but pesticide grade DE as the diatoms are larger and can't be inhaled as easily. Is this true?


Scott
7/29/2015 11:08:34 PM

I do have a question though, on a EPA website, they urge you not to use food grade but pesticide grade DE as the diatoms are larger and can't be inhaled as easily. Is this true?


Robert
6/16/2015 12:18:29 AM

DE has ALWAYS BEEN a Great Thing to "HAVE AROUND"! BEING A "GOOD" Insecticide is JUST "ONE" USE. "IT'S" CHEAP, EASY-TO-USE, ETC. For an "Insecticide", just REMEMBER; "A Little" GOES-A-LONG-WAY! DON'T "USE TOO-MUCH", You don't HAVE (OR"WANT")-TO! "SPREAD-IT "VERY THIN", it'll WORK Better, that way. And, "RE-APPLY" as NECCESARY (THAT MEANS; "Pretty-OFTEN)! "BUY" a COUPLE-OF "GOOD-SIZE" BAGS' & "STORE-THEM" IN PLASTIC! Garbage BAGS ARE a "Good IDEA"! "WATER" IS "A NO-NO"!






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