Usually, the thing that most people want to do when they first realize they have a pest problem is figure out how to get rid of it themselves. Whether that means buying a can of Raid, washing clothing and linens in hot water, or setting out traps, there are a lot of do-it-yourself tools and techniques available to homeowners and property owners. One of the most common products that is often touted to help get rid of insect pests is diatomaceous earth, a substance known to harm insects if they touch it. Here are five things to know about diatomaceous earth before you decide to try it out.
What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a powder product homeowners often used to kill pests. While the name alone makes it sound like a fancy pest control or gardening resource, this substance is essentially just fine particles of fossilized single-celled organisms in the form of a fine white or off-white powder. It’s known for its abrasive nature, and versions of it can be found in certain consumer products. When used correctly, diatomaceous earth can be used to deter tiny pest creatures.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?
Diatomaceous earth can quickly kill a variety of pests that come into contact with the product, but it has to be used correctly. Here’s a rough breakdown of how diatomaceous earth works as a pest control method:
- It sticks to the waxy coating of insect exoskeletons, inflicting tiny wounds that affect pests’ ability to breathe properly. These tiny cuts caused by diatomaceous earth usually will kill insects, it just may not happen instantaneously.
- It prevents insects from staying hydrated by absorbing moisture and fluids.
- It can damage them internally if the insect is large enough to swallow a particle.
This substance is meant to rapidly affect the health of an insect pest and kill it within a matter of hours or days. However, this timing can vary, and if only some of the pests infesting your home or business are affected, you could still have a significant infestation on your hands.
Different Kinds of Diatomaceous Earth
When looking into buying diatomaceous earth, keep in mind that two main types exist for pest control, primarily 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. It’s less treated, has few to no other chemicals or substances in it, and is usually cheaper.
What Kinds of Pests Can Diatomaceous Earth Work Against?
When used properly, diatomaceous earth can kill many different insect pests, including:
- Bed bugs
Can It Replace the Work of A Pest Professional?
The answer to this question is often debated, as with any DIY pest control substance or technique. Diatomaceous earth does work for its intended purpose, but only to an extent. Some of its main disadvantages include the fact that it only works in places where someone puts it, and it can be an unsightly and messy substance to use. Not only that, while the particles of food-grade diatomaceous earth aren’t dangerous to humans or animals (though pool-grade can be), you still don’t want to breathe it in, which means you’d want to be careful about how you use it and where you put it. Furthermore, diatomaceous earth will only work as a temporary solution—it may get rid of some pests that wander through the area of application, but it won’t affect pests that are still in hiding and don’t come into contact with the substance. If you have pets, or small children, handling anything other than food-grade diatomaceous earth is strongly discouraged unless you are a professional.
The simple fact is that no home remedy can replace the training and specialized pest treatment techniques of a pest control technician—not even diatomaceous earth. This substance may work in some scenarios, but it isn’t a thorough enough solution to solve every insect pest problem. This is particularly true if the person using it doesn’t understand how to apply it or judge how well it has worked. If you need answers or solutions to a pest problem, we offer free inspections to help you determine the best course of action. Contact us today!