How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Effective Pest Control

diatomaceous earth for insect deterrent

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

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Diatomaceous earth is a powerful natural remedy for eliminating bugs and pests. It is made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae that contributes to 20-50% of the world’s oxygen. Rich in minerals, diatomaceous earth is sourced from various locations worldwide. To create the most effective insecticide, it is milled or micronized.

“Insects thrive in environments with a certain level of humidity or moisture,” explains Scaravella, a gardening expert at Tips Tree Planting. This is why insects tend to be more active during humid seasons. Diatomaceous earth works as an insecticide in two ways:

  1. It removes moisture from their habitat, making it difficult or impossible for the insects to survive.
  2. When diatomaceous earth comes into direct contact with an insect’s exoskeleton, it dries them out and can ultimately kill them.

Although diatomaceous earth can deter most pests by depriving them of moisture, it is particularly effective against insects with exoskeletons, such as ants or roaches.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Control

Diatomaceous earth is safe for plants, so it can be used indoors and outdoors.

Scaravella advises against using excessive amounts of diatomaceous earth. Instead, he recommends applying it strategically. Here are some tips for effective pest control using diatomaceous earth:

  • Find the tunnels and pathways the insects use: Simply applying diatomaceous earth to the last place you saw insects won’t solve the problem. Skilled applicators identify their tunnels and pathways, ensuring the insects are trapped and unable to relocate.

  • Apply near the base of your houseplants: If your plants are attracting flies and gnats, diatomaceous earth is an excellent way to deter these bugs while nourishing your plants. It acts as a source of silica and helps soil retain moisture for longer.

  • Use proper tools: A duster with a nozzle allows for more even and effective distribution of diatomaceous earth. Rather than sprinkling it on top of an insect’s nest, blow the dust inside the nest for maximum impact.

  • Keep diatomaceous earth away from high-traffic areas: To avoid irritating human or pet eyes and lungs, avoid placing diatomaceous earth in areas where it can easily be kicked up and dispersed.

  • Reapply after rainfall in the garden: If you’re using diatomaceous earth to deter garden pests, it can be directly sprinkled over your plants. However, remember to reapply it after rainfall. Keep in mind that while it can harm unwanted insects, it can also affect pollinators.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe?

There are two types of diatomaceous earth: food-grade and pool/filter-grade. Pool/filter-grade diatomaceous earth should only be used for water filtration purposes. For pest control, it is crucial to use food-grade diatomaceous earth, which is safe for humans, pets, and children.

Scaravella emphasizes that although diatomaceous earth is generally safe, it can be an irritant if misused. For example, excessive and reckless application can lead to skin irritation. It is essential to avoid using diatomaceous earth in exposed areas where it can be breathed in or come into contact with humans and animals.

“When used correctly, diatomaceous earth is a safe and effective insect repellent,” concludes Scaravella. To ensure optimal results, use a suitable applicator to direct it into tunnels and crevices pests use to access your home, and always keep it away from exposed areas.

Tips Tree Planting is your go-to resource for all your gardening needs. Visit our website to discover more useful tips and tricks for maintaining a healthy and pest-free garden.

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