Diatomaceous Earth – Natural Pest Control You Can Eat
Having pest problems at home? Are pests like cockroaches, ants, and bed bugs roaming around your home like nobody’s business? One of the most effective natural solutions to pest control is diatomaceous earth. Test it out if all others have failed.
Note: you should only get food-grade diatomaceous earth to reap the benefits listed below. Do not use the pool-grade version.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is made from the fossilized remains of single-cell algae called diatoms. The cell wall of diatoms is a relevant characteristic because it consists of silica. Some of you may know that silica is the main component of glass. Hence, some like to refer to diatoms as algae living in glasshouses. You’ll later learn why this is relevant for pest control.
Many household products contain diatomaceous earth. Examples include: toothpaste, beverages, skin care products, and even pet food. Past research studies have found that diatomaceous earth is associated with numerous health benefits. For example, one study suggests that dietary silicon may help prevent bone-thinning diseases such as osteoporosis.
Diatomaceous Earth as a Pest Control
For this article, we are mainly concerned with how the fine white powder can help defeat pest infestations at home or in the backyard. As we mentioned before, diatoms have cell walls that consist of silica. This gives the diatomaceous earth sharp and abrasive properties. Safe enough for us to consume but sharp enough to pierce through the waxy coating of a bug’s exoskeleton.
This is when the magic of diatomaceous earth kicks in. The pierced exoskeleton causes the bugs to eventually dehydrate and die. The biggest advantage this powder has over other pest solutions is that it “works physically”. Insects can’t build resistance or immunity to it like they might do for chemical pesticide. Hence, it does not lose effectiveness over time.
Diatomaceous earth is so effective against pests that a lot of industrial sectors use it as well. For example, some farmers dump diatomaceous earth in grain storage facilities. This helps get rid of insects that may want to feast on the grain.
Diatomaceous Earth in Action
Tips for Using Diatomaceous Earth
So what’s the best way to get rid of pests using this powder? Here are some helpful tips.
1. It’s not a Bait
It’s important to remember that diatomaceous earth is not a bait. The powder won’t attract pests like ants, bed bugs, and cockroaches. You might need to mix it with some attractant like icing sugar to increase its effectiveness.
2. Keep it Dry
The powder is pretty useless at eradicating pests when it is wet. Chances are, you will need to apply the powder in damp areas such as under the sink. Make sure there are no leaks and pipes are properly sealed. Apply diatomaceous earth powder on a consistent basis.
3. Dust Lightly
Dust the powder lightly near high-traffic pest areas. A cockroach is unlikely to wade through a pile of powder. Apply it on locations where the pests could be hiding. In addition, consider places where bugs might enter the household.
4. Cleaning Up
Are the bed bugs, roaches, or ants no longer in sight? The most effective way of cleaning up any remaining debris is to use a shop vacuum. You could also use a damp towel to wipe away small bits of diatomaceous earth.
5. Food-grade Only
Don’t forget our earlier warning. You should only use food-grade diatomaceous earth. Do not get the filter-grade or pool-grade version. Pool-grade diatomaceous earth contains a high concentration of crystalline silica, which can be harmful to your health.
Published on April 21, 2017 by Sam Choan.