Diatomaceous Earth: The Natural Answer to Your Insect Woes
With the arrival of spring comes longer days, warmer weather and yes — bugs. I think I speak for everyone when I say that spiders, cockroaches, ants, palmetto bugs and fleas are all unwelcome guests in our homes, especially since so many of us are holed up in our homes for the majority of the day due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Oftentimes when people see bugs around their homes, they reach for a bottle of toxic spray to take care of the problem. I’ll admit, I too have done that in the past, but for the last couple of decades I’ve used a natural and safe product to take care of the bugs in and around my home: diatomaceous earth.
I know what you’re thinking: “What the heck is diatomaceous earth?” Simply stated, diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of marine organisms called diatoms, a form of complex algae. It’s particle size usually ranges from 10 to 200 micrometers and it has a similar look and texture to talc or baby powder. The microscopic surface of the diatoms has very sharp shards and blades. When insects come in contact with it, it works in two ways:
1) The diatomaceous earth sticks to the insect and the powder gets stuck between their exoskeleton joints. The sharp shards and blades cut up the insect and it bleeds to death. That would be the equivalent of you rolling naked in a treacherous bed of razor blades!
2) The diatomaceous earth also absorbs the moisture of the insect when it penetrates or cuts it and the insects will dry out and die.
While this product is deadly to bugs, it’s environmentally friendly and is safe to use in your garden, home and around pets. Diatomaceous earth is used also as a way for humans to rid our bodies of internal parasites. Yes, you read that correctly. You can consume it. Sometimes I add a teaspoon of food-grade diatomaceous earth to my water and smoothies. The only way diatomaceous earth could ever harm humans or animals is if we breathe in a lot of it.
Negative effects of using toxic insect killers include:
- Shortness of breath
- Coughing and congestion
- Asthma attacks and wheezing
- Pulmonary edema
- Dizziness and headache
- Respiratory paralysis and cardiac arrest (rare but possible)
In addition, some of these contain possible human carcinogens and some are suspected of disrupting the endocrine system.
I’ve been using diatomaceous earth for at least 20 years and it keeps our home safe. I can’t say it keeps our home totally “bug-free” because I do still see an occasional bug BUT it is usually upside down and dead — the only way I like to see roaches!
Insects killed by diatomaceous earth include:
- Beetles (all kinds)
- Caterpillars (please don’t kill these)
- Crickets (please don’t kill these)
If it’s a crawling insect, diatomaceous earth will most likely kill it. Because it does kill all types of insects, please be careful to not get it near insects like butterﬂies, bees and worms.
There are several “grades” of diatomaceous earth and many people use diatomaceous earth internally as a parasite killer. Think of it as a gentle detox. Beneﬁts reported include better digestive health, increased energy, weight loss, clearer skin and less joint/ligament pain. Just a teaspoon in a liquid is a great starting place for humans.
The diatomaceous earth I purchase is food-grade so I can occasionally add a spoonful to my smoothies. If you explore the other grades, you may ﬁnd the addition of various chemicals, which negates the reason you are using it, so be careful and read labels. You can ﬁnd food-grade diatomaceous earth at Home Depot, Lowes and of course, Amazon.
Application of diatomaceous earth is time-consuming but well worth it. You’ll likely only need to apply diatomaceous earth twice a year inside your home. I have used several different kinds of applicators and I can tell you the powder duster with an extension nozzle is the easiest to use. I like the way the diatomaceous earth powder shoots straight out, making it easy to spray along the baseboards, which can be almost invisible if you aim well.
I shoot the powder liberally under the kitchen sink where the pipes go through the wall. These should be completely caulked, but invariably, bugs seem to ﬁnd their way through these. I also spray diatomaceous earth under and behind the refrigerator, the stove and most of the furniture in the house. You’ll be amazed and very happy with the results.
Diatomaceous earth takes longer to work than the poisonous pesticides, so the insect doesn’t keel right over, but rest assured, it will keel over. Unlike the toxic pesticides, diatomaceous earth has the advantage of lasting on and on, continuing to kill insects. Remember, just twice a year has worked for me for years!
Benefits of food-grade diatomaceous earth include:
- Safe for humans and pets
- Easy to apply to home interior and exterior
- From nature itself, a natural made pesticide
- Lasts much longer than normal toxic pesticides
- Can be used internally to kill parasites in us
- It is truly “green.”
This time of year, I generously shoot the diatomaceous earth powder along the outside perimeter of our home. Might as well take care of the unwanted insects before they even get into the house, right? When doing this I always make sure I’m not spraying any butterﬂies or bees. The worms underground should be safe.
A couple of important notes: If you ﬁnd yourself breathing in the powder I would typically advise you to wear a mask to prevent inhaling it, as it can be irritating to your nasal passages and lungs. However, as our country faces a shortage of personal protective equipment (including masks) during the COVID-19 crisis, I would instead recommend being extra cautious in how you spray it. Also, when you vacuum, be aware that the diatomaceous earth powder can clog up the ﬁlter. If possible, I suggest you use a shop vacuum if you have a lot to clean up. On a solid ﬂoor, you can mop up the residue.
Our world is precious and it needs all of the love it can get. So please, instead of adding more toxic poisons to the earth use diatomaceous earth instead. You will be using a natural pesticide that works and is safe to use around your home, your pets and your family. Spread the word!
Learn more: Naturally Healthy Living with Diatomaceous Earth: You, your home, and your pets can be healthier using Mother Earth’s Best Kept Secret! (Simply Smarter Living) ( Volume 1) by Nicholas Ph.D., L.A.
The DE Book. Diatomaceous Earth for People, Pets, and Pest Control diatomaceousearth.com