Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Pest Control?

If you’ve got a bug problem, you might have heard of diatomaceous earth as a DIY solution. But does diatomaceous earth work for bugs? Is it safe?

Today, the pros at ScherZinger Pest Control are talking about whether or not you can use diatomaceous earth to solve a bug problem. Keep reading to find out!

Diatomaceous Earth for Bugs

As far as DIY methods go, diatomaceous earth is a popular one: it comes up often on DIY and green blogs as a “natural” remedy for bugs. But what is it?

What is diatomaceous earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a substance made of tiny fossilized organisms called diatoms (a kind of hard-shelled micro-algae). The fossils are mostly made up of silica. It’s typically a fine powder, though it can also be made in liquid form.

Because it’s mostly silica, diatomaceous earth is somewhat abrasive and absorbent. (Think the abrasiveness of a pumice stone.)

There are many applications for diatomaceous earth, from its use in metal polishes to cat litter.

In addition, diatomaceous earth is a kind of mechanical pesticide. It is abrasive, cutting into an insect’s exoskeleton. It can also stick to the exoskeleton, preventing the insect from breathing. As a result, the insect eventually dries out and dies. Diatomaceous earth can kill pests like cockroaches, carpet beetles, bed bugs, fleas, and more.

In general, diatomaceous earth is safe—though it depends on the type. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is found to be non-toxic to mammals, aquatic life, birds, and reptiles. That makes it safe to use around pets as well as people. (Pool-grade diatomaceous earth—which is formulated for use in pool filters—is not. This type of diatomaceous earth is treated and contains mostly crystalline silica; if inhaled, crystalline silica can cause lung inflammation and scarring.)

So if food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe and does kill bugs, do we recommend it? The short answer is no: read on to find out why!

Why We Don’t Recommend Diatomaceous Earth for Bugs

Diatomaceous earth is often recommended because it’s viewed as a non-toxic, natural alternative to traditional pest control.

However, just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it’s particularly effective!

There’s a reason you don’t see the pros using diatomaceous earth as our go-to pest control: it just doesn’t work very well. (We’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news!)

What’s the problem with diatomaceous earth?

The main problem with diatomaceous earth is in how difficult it is to use effectively.

Consider this: an insect needs to walk through the diatomaceous earth in order for the powder to work. Now consider all of the tiny little cracks and crevices in your home where pests can hide. Do you think it will be easy to get diatomaceous earth everywhere the pests are?

Diatomaceous earth might kill some bugs, but it’s going to miss others. Some bugs will live another day—all the while eating your belongings (whether food or clothes), biting you (in the case of bed bugs) or your pets (in the case of fleas), contaminating your home, and worst of all, reproducing! You could spend weeks or months spreading diatomaceous earth around your home, waiting in vain for it to get rid of every last pest.

On top of this major problem, diatomaceous earth also needs to be dry and loose in order to work properly. That means it doesn’t work well in humid environments. It also doesn’t work well after being packed down (for example, from foot traffic).

Finally, even though diatomaceous earth is relatively safe, that doesn’t mean it can’t be harmful. Fine powders like diatomaceous earth can be very irritating to the respiratory tract if you breathe them in (if, like most homeowners, you don’t own a respirator).

In short, we don’t recommend diatomaceous earth for an infestation because it’s just not effective enough (like many other DIY solutions for bugs like ants, bed bugs, cockroaches, etc.).

If you shouldn’t rely on diatomaceous earth, what can you do to get rid of a bug problem?

We Can Help Solve Your Pest Problem

We can recommend a number of more effective, faster solutions that are still safe for you, your family, and your pets.

Feel free to give us a call to talk about your pest problem and get solutions tailored to your home!

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our websiteFacebook, or Twitter.