It seems that whether the weather is warm or cool, there is always a reason for bugs and spiders to be trying to get into your house. No matter the season, pests find your home hospitable and want to take up residence. If you have bugs bugging you, there are some natural solutions to keep bugs out and your family and pets safe.
At Environmental Pest Management, natural pest control remedies are our specialty. Here’s a tip from us about something you can use at home to keep bugs at bay. Have you heard of diatomaceous earth (pronounced die-uh-toh-may-shush earth)? We promise; it’s not just dirt! But it can be your friend for non-toxic pest control.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a talc-like powder comprised of microscopic, single-celled organisms called “diatoms.” These organisms were hard-shelled algae or phytoplankton that lived several million years ago and accumulated in large deposits along lakes, streams, and riverbeds. In the U.S., deposits of diatoms look like soft, sedimentary rock, that becomes a fine off-white powder when crushed. Basically, diatomaceous earth is fine dust that contains deposits of diatoms.
Even if you’ve never heard of diatomaceous earth before, you may have used products that contain it. Most diatomaceous earth is “food grade,” which means the US Food and Drug Administration has evaluated it as non-toxic and edible. Many products, including foods and beverages, contain diatomaceous earth. It is a commonly used anti-caking agent and sometimes used as a clarifier in wine or beer.
DE is also used in the manufacture of skin exfoliators, toothpaste, and facial scrubs. Some people even take diatomaceous earth supplements, as it has been shown to boost your immune system and improve joint health.
Also Read: Good Bugs for Your Garden
So how does finely crushed rock containing the corpses of eons-old micro-organisms help you with your pest problems? The story continues to get weirder, but despite it sounding like something out of science fiction, it truly works.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Control Pests?
One of the many benefits of diatomaceous earth is its use as a natural pest control. Registered as a pesticide, DE controls cockroaches, silverfish, ants, fleas, ticks, bed bugs, crickets, spiders, and other pests.
If it’s non-toxic and humans can eat it, then how does it kill bugs? The answer, my friends, has to do with skin. Humans have it, and bugs do not. We wear our skeletons on the inside while bugs have exoskeletons. Herein lies DE’s effectiveness as pest-control. Diatomaceous earth is not poisonous, and the bugs don’t eat it. They walk right through it and meet their demise.
All those fossilized algae skeletons, or diatoms, have little sharp edges. Diatomaceous earth is abrasive, which is why it gets used in exfoliants and toothpaste. Those sharp edges make tiny cuts in an insect’s exoskeleton upon contact, and the diatomaceous earth then absorbs the oils and fats from its outer layer. As a result, the insect dries out and dies.
Insects take a stroll through this innocuous-looking powder and don’t know anything is wrong until several hours later when they have crawled away to die.
Where Can I Get Diatomaceous Earth?
You can find diatomaceous earth at home improvement stores, large stores that have gardening departments, garden supply stores, and online. When applying it for pest control, you do not need food grade, but if that is all you can find, it’ll work just fine. There are many brands to choose from that are usually sold by the pound.
How Should I Apply Diatomaceous Earth?
We generally recommend using diatomaceous earth outside your home. All you need to do is apply a thin layer of the DE in your flower beds, around your home’s foundation, in your lawn, along the edges of your patio, across your exterior door thresholds, or anywhere you want to control bugs.
There are two ways to apply diatomaceous earth. While wearing a pair of garden gloves and a mask, toss handfuls in the areas you want to control bugs. You can also load the diatomaceous earth into a dust spreader, which you can find at a hardware or home improvement store. In either case, it’s best to wear a mask to avoid breathing the powder. Inhaling too much of it can irritate your throat and esophagus, due to sharp the edges of the diatoms. Keep the area dry as much as possible. If the rain arrives, you’ll need to reapply.
Interior places to apply diatomaceous earth are: around the base of your kitchen cabinets, behind the washer and dryer, or around the perimeter of your garage. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth on your carpets, leave it overnight, then vacuum it — and any dead bugs — up in the morning. The same goes for upholstered furniture and mattresses. DE is known to kill those tiny pests that no one wants in their bedding or camping gear, bed bugs.
Advantages of Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth has several advantages over chemical pesticides. First, bugs cannot build up a resistance to DE. Insects can, and do, adapt and resist chemical pesticides, often requiring higher doses or new chemicals to be effective. Second, diatomaceous is 100% chemical free. It’s certified as safe by the FDA, so you don’t have to worry about it being harmful to your family or your pets.
Third, unlike chemical applications, diatomaceous earth doesn’t lose its effectiveness. As long as it is in place and dry, it will continue to work. Lastly, DE is beneficial for your plants and lawn, in addition to its pest-control perks.
Your Partner for Natural Pest Control
If you need some help with diatomaceous earth or other pest control solutions, give us a call at Environmental Pest Management. We’ll be happy to inspect your home for creepy crawlies and get you on a pest management schedule to keep your home insect and critter-free. We always use the least toxic, most environmentally conscious, and effective treatments possible, so you can trust that your family will be safe and secure.
Let Environmental Pest Management take care of the pests so that you can take care of your family.