Diatomaceous Earth is made from fossilized algae found in bodies of water. There are hundreds of registered products that use diatomaceous earth (DE) as the main ingredient. Recently it has even been known to have certain health benefits.


Diatomaceous earth in a bowl


How Does it Work?

Diatomaceous earth works by breaking down the exoskeletons of insects. Most DE comes in dust formulas and can be applied with paintbrushes, turkey basters, or puffers.

Use this product inside and outside in your home and gardens for a natural solution to pests. Products with diatomaceous earth can be used directly on pets to protect against fleas and ticks. This product is also effective against other pests, such as:


There are three grades of diatomaceous earth:


Pool Grade Diatomaceous Earth

This form of diatomaceous earth filters impurities and is especially effective in water. The product is heated to produce a high level of silica. This makes it dangerous for human and animal consumption, and should only be used for pool filtration.


Feed Grade Diatomaceous Earth

As the name suggests, this grade of diatomaceous earth is used to feed animals. This product is safer than the pool-grade DE, as it has less than 1% silica. It’s still not safe for human consumption. Some people will use food-grade DE for their feed just to be safe. Always read and follow the label of any product before using it. If you have more health concerns, speak to a vet about using feed-grade DE with your animals.


Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

This is the highest quality of DE and is meant for human consumption. This product also contains less than 1% silica. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is best for DIY pest control. Be sure to always read and follow the label of any product you use. Use caution and look out for adverse reactions, as it’s been known to irritate the skin.

If you are using DE for pest control and it’s not working, there could be 3 possible reasons why.


  1. You’re over-applying your DE

You should want a thin layer of DE with your bait. There shouldn’t be any piles of DE in your baits.

If insects spot piles, they will just go around and avoid the bait. If you are using diatomaceous earth to kill bed bugs, the piles may encourage the bugs to migrate to new places and avoid any baits altogether.


  1.   You’re applying it in the wrong place

Make sure you are applying diatomaceous earth in places with low foot traffic. If it’s likely that’ll be swept up and blown away, try to move the product. Ensure everyone in your household knows where your diatomaceous bait is so it’s not accidentally swept into the air.


  1.  You’re not making a good bait

Diatomaceous earth shouldn’t be exclusively used on its own. Use another form of “bait” to capture your pests along with it. Take time to research and study your pest to see what items are best for bait. For instance, certain kinds of ants will be attracted to different kinds of baits. If you choose the correct bait alongside your diatomaceous earth, you’re sure to get your infestation under control.

Also Read: Guide: How To Kill Ants

Always clean up diatomaceous earth before you have an exterminator come inspect your home. If you are having trouble baiting your pests, or need extra assistance, call a local exterminator at (833) 431-0401.


Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe For Humans?

There are laws on diatomaceous earth and what can be used for pest control. Be sure to only use pest-formulated DE for your pest solutions. As mentioned, this product can be dangerous depending on the amount of silica in it.

There are two types of silica that can be found in DE:


  • Crystalline silicon dioxide
  • Amorphous silicon dioxide

Crystalline silicon is very dangerous and can accumulate in lung tissue and lymph nodes if breathed in. The long-term effects of inhaling crystalline silicon have been linked to silicosis, chronic bronchitis, and other respiratory problems. There is only a small amount of crystalline silicon in most DE.

Amorphous silicon is also found in diatomaceous earth. This silicon dissipates quickly in lung tissue and is not as harmful to humans.

Any lung damage associated with amorphous silicon is mild and often reversible due to inflammation. It is the most prevalent silicon in the diatomaceous earth and has not been linked to any major health problems like cancer.

With any pest-formulated product, try not to breathe it in and avoid the eyes and mouth. Take caution when first applying the product by wearing gloves and a mask. Keep your pest formulated diatomaceous earth away from children and pets.

Although it is not known to cause any developmental or birth defects, it’s better to err on the side of caution if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

People have experienced shortness of breath when inhaling a large amount of filter-grade diatomaceous earth. If you accidentally breathe any product, get fresh air and ask a healthcare professional if there are any additional steps you should take.


Is It Safe For Animals and Other Wildlife?

Diatomaceous earth has been known to protect pets, and can even be used as a treatment for:


  • Roundworms
  • Whipworms
  • Pinworms
  • Hookworms

You can either apply food-grade DE as a topical treatment, or can be used in small doses in food.

Always use caution when using new products on your pets. Consult your vet before introducing DE to your pet’s diet.

If your pet is known to have dry or sensitive skin, do not use diatomaceous earth as a topical treatment as it may further irritate their skin. Diatomaceous earth is not recommended for reptiles, as it dries out their skin.

It is not known to be toxic to most wildlife aside from reptiles and bees. If you want to use a natural product to protect your garden, try using neem oil or cedarwood oil.

Also Read: Guide: Neem Oil 

What Products Use Diatomaceous Earth?

Most diatomaceous earth normally comes in a dust form. You’ll need additional tools to safely apply it such as puffers or brushes. Be sure to look for food-grade level DE, and read and follow the label of any product you’re using.


Diatomaceous Earth vs Other Products

There are lots of products out there to help you ward off pests. Let’s look at some other naturally formulated products that compare to diatomaceous earth.


Diatomaceous Earth vs Boric Acid

If you’re unsure about the different kinds of diatomaceous earth and want to err on the side of caution, try boric acid. This product does not have the laws and restrictions DE has, so you’ll be safe every time.

Differentiating between all the different grades and formulations of diatomaceous earth can be difficult. Boric acid only has one formulation, and you can achieve similar results with the same pests.

If you’re unsure if DE products are the right solution to protect against pests, call a local exterminator at (833) 431-0401 to see what other solutions they recommend.