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Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Control

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Over a long period, diatoms accumulate in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. Today, silica deposits are mined from these areas. Diatomaceous earth is a powder-like, abrasive product that, when applied in accordance with use directions, can be used to kill pests.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Pests?

When pests come into contact with diatomaceous earth, their exoskeletons adhere to it and creates abrasions that affect a pest’s ability to breathe properly. Diatomaceous earth will kill insects, but it may take some time. It also prevents insects from staying hydrated by absorbing moisture and fluids.

This substance rapidly deteriorates the health of a pest and kills it within a matter of hours or days. However, this timing can vary, and if only some of the pests infesting your home come into direct contact with diatomaceous earth, a significant infestation may continue to remain. Additionally, pests tend to avoid thick layers of diatomaceous earth powder and it is much less effective in moist or wet environments.

What Types of Pests Can Be Controlled Using Diatomaceous Earth?

When used properly, diatomaceous earth can kill many different pests, including:

  • Ants

  • Cockroaches

  • Silverfish

  • Beetles

  • Bed bugs

  • Fleas

How Long Does It Take for Diatomaceous to Work on Pests?

This process can take a few hours to a few days, depending on the insect and the conditions. Some studies have found that some insects die within 4 hours of contact while others may take a full day. While some individual insects may be eliminated fairly quickly, it’s likely to be less effective at controlling an entire infestation. It is recommended that you reapply diatomaceous earth once a week for a full month and use it in strict compliance with the product label.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Pets and Children?

There are two main types of diatomaceous earth— pool-grade and food-grade. Both are considered pesticides. Pool-grade diatomaceous earth is treated in ways that make it more hazardous to touch or breathe for humans and other large animals. That’s why food-grade diatomaceous earth is usually recommended for pest control solutions. However, if too much diatomaceous earth is inhaled, it can irritate the nose and nasal passages or cause coughing and shortness of breath. On the skin, it can also cause irritation and dryness. Diatomaceous earth may also irritate the eyes, due to its abrasive nature. Always follow label instructions for diatomaceous earth and take steps to minimize exposure. If any exposure occurs, be sure to follow the first aid instructions on the product label.

If not experienced with using diatomaceous earth for pest control, contact your Orkin Pro for advice and precautions.

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