Diatomaceous Earth: Effective Natural Pest Control

Nobody wants to see this first thing in the morning when they head out to the berry patch.

And if you’re visiting my homestead during the gardening months, you’ll hear us refer to “D.E.” almost daily.

The powdery substance, also known as diatomaceous earth, is one of my favorite weapons against garden pests.

Do you want get rid of pests in your garden without harming your plants? Learn more here: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/diatomaceous-earth/

It has saved my family from losing large portions of our garden to beetles, moths, and other crawly things.

What on Earth is DE?

Diatomaceous earth, the official name for DE, is not new.

A popular topic of discussion by many gardeners in recent times, it is an organic gardening pesticide that has been used by some farmers and pest control professionals for decades.

Prevent garden pests from eating your crops with DE. | GardenersPath.com

In fact, the powder is often a go-to remedy for household flea infestations as well.

The compound is made from the ground-up bodies of prehistoric diatomic fossils.

When ground, these tiny oceanic skeletal pieces are very sharp, and produce the effect of many miniature razor blades on the respiratory systems of any smaller insect or bug that inhales it. It also causes drying of the mucous membranes of breathing holes and lungs in bugs.

Try diatomaceous earth, a powerful weapon against garden pests | Gardener's Path
Highly magnified diatomaceous earth shows the intricate fossils that make up the substance. Photo courtesy of Auburn University Food Systems Institute. Used with permission.

Effective against slugs, beetles, worms, fleas, mites, and most any spider or insect, it is not much of a concern for larger creatures. Because the particles are so small, DE is safe to use around other wildlife, children, and pets.

Anyone who is particularly sensitive to particulates (such as those with asthma or any other type of breathing condition) will want to avoid directly breathing in the dust.

My husband is one such person, and he wears a dust mask to avoid coughing fits and temporary irritation.

What’s the Best Way to Apply It?

My husband carries around a recycled carpet cleaning powder container that he uses to sprinkle liberal amounts of diatomaceous earth on plants in our garden that are the most susceptible to insect damage.

While we may have used Sevin or another toxic product in the past, DE works just as well for us – without the worry of our children ingesting trace amounts of toxic chemicals with each garden snack.

Pests are eager to eat your plants. Here's one simple trick to keep them away. | GardenersPath.com

You can sprinkle it directly on the ground where slugs are most likely to reproduce. Or, you can apply a light dusting to the plants themselves.

Diatomaceous earth must be reapplied after every rain or heavy dew to be effective. It’s important to remember that wet DE does not have the drying, cutting effect that’s needed to be work against pests.

All DE is Not the Same

It is important to note that “food grade” diatomaceous earth is the only kind appropriate for use in gardens, and around pets and kids. There are other types that may contain contaminates that are harmful if inhaled or ingested.

Studies on food grade DE, however, have shown it to be relatively harmless to people, even if inhaled in rather large amounts.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Pest Control | GardenersPath.com

As harmless as the food grade version can be for your household, the regular stuff may cause major problems.

The type that is often used in pool filtration systems is not safe to use around kids and pets. Be sure to purchase food grade only and check the packaging for this designation.

As helpful as many garden store employees can be, many are not aware of the differences. It is up to you to protect your family and flock by reading labels, and ensuring that you are introducing a safe pest treatment to your garden.

For more information on the safe use of diatomaceous earth, we like this helpful resource from our friends at Pest Strategies.

DE in the Environment

I want to keep our acreage, and the neighboring land around it, free from harmful chemicals. It’s important that it continues to be a source of food and shelter for my kids, grandkids, and their families.

Diatomaceous earth gives me some piece of mind in that area, as it doesn’t negatively affect the soil or surrounding waterways when used over time. In fact, DE is a sustainable source of silicon dioxide, an essential ingredient needed for poultry development.

Nobody wants to see this when the head out to the berry patch. Stop pests in their tracks with our simple trick- read more to learn how to use diatomaceous earth in the garden: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/disease-and-pests/diatomaceous-earth/

Chickens that eat vegetation treated by diatomaceous earth may potentially experience significant health benefits.

Note: While I do not live near the oceans or any major waterways, runoff containing DE simply redeposits the silicon that originally came from the ocean back into it. The silicon continues, undissolved, until it can be used by certain marine life species in building their exoskeletons!

Squash Bugs: A Case Study

If there is one foe of our garden that I have despised more than any, it is the squash beetle. Our soil is perfect for inviting these destructive creatures in, and they have taken out hundreds of pounds of potential pumpkins, butternuts, and melons over the years.

How to Get Rid of Squash Beetles | GardenersPath.com

Before diatomaceous earth, we would wait anxiously for them to hatch, then move quickly to harvest before they overtook everything. Now, we have a new plan:

  1. Each day in late summer that the squash beetle is likely to lay eggs, check the undersides of the squash plants. If we see eggs, we act!
  2. Using gloved hands, carefully remove the eggs, being careful not to tear the leaves.
  3. Immediately sprinkle DE on the tops of all of the plants.
  4. Reapply after each rain.
  5. Continue checking for eggs and apply DE throughout the life of the squash plant.
  6. Discontinue application when the harvest is done.

It seems like work, but the reward is sweet! We experience an abundant squash harvest, with no rotting or dead vines, and organic food for my family.

I can’t tell you how good it feels not to worry about chemical residue getting into my family’s meals.

Other Uses for DE

Food grade diatomaceous earth can be a powerful tool for many home and garden ailments.

Added to a sandbox filled with dirt, it makes a good dust bath for chickens, and can keep bird lice and fleas away.

For this use, look for concentrations of the product that contain less than 1% of other ingredients to make sure you are using the purest form for animals.

It is also a potent remedy for fleas in the house. After you find your first flea, liberally sprinkle DE on your carpet and other cloth surfaces, and allow to sit for a minimum of 12 hours before vacuuming.

You may need to repeat this after a week, or when flea eggs are likely to hatch. Repeat 3-4 times to rid your home of stubborn indoor fleas.

A Word on Bee Protection

Bees are our friends. Gardeners should be especially mindful of any products used that may cause issues for our pollinators.

If your garden happens to be attractive to bees, you may consider covering any treated plants with a sheet during the day when bees visit.

Keep an eye on which plants are more likely to bring the bees around, and make note for when the time comes to apply DE.

Most of the plants will be in a flowering stage, which may or may not be during the same time pests are likely to attack.

Getting the Best Price on DE

While you can order it online, be aware that the price per ounce can vary dramatically between suppliers. Your best value will often be found at a local feed store or garden center. Some Amazon sellers have also to earned the repeat business of gardeners who are looking for a more natural option for pest control.

Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth Insect Killer

Ordering in the off-season and storing what you’ve bought throughout the winter is likely to be the best way to take advantage of low prices.

Why Diatomaceous Earth is For You

While the idea of using ground up sea creatures on your garden may seem strange to you, it’s worth integrating into your pest control routine.

The powder is a very simple product to apply, and it has proven to be just as effective (if not more so) than its toxic counterparts. Keeping a coffee can full of diatomaceous earth in my garden shed leaves me with no excuses – it’s so easy to keep on top of bugs and crawly things.

Do you want to have a natural product to get rid of pests in your garden? Learn more now: https://gardenerspath.com/how-to/diatomaceous-earth/

If you’re trying it for the first time, consider starting with a small project – such as your raised bed of greens. Use it in place of commercial pesticides or other homemade solutions. I think you’ll be amazed at how little you’ll need to use!

Have you used diatomaceous earth before? What tips and tricks have you discovered? We’re happy to answer any questions you have regarding specific applications in the comments.

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photo via Safer. Microscope image courtesy of Auburn University Food Systems Institute. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Linsey Knerl

Born and raised in a small Nebraska town, Linsey Knerl is a homeschooling mother of six who enjoys blogging and working hard on her 3 1/2-acre Nebraska homestead. When she’s not working on her next fantasy novel, you will find her in her kitchen, perfecting the Danish recipes of her grandmother with those special ingredients you can only find in a backyard garden.

110 thoughts on “Diatomaceous Earth: Effective Natural Pest Control”

  1. Hi Linsey. I use DE personally and find it a fantastic product. I have roses that are affected by aphids. Can I use DE on them and what dosage?

    • Hi Catherine. Thanks for your question! DE really is amazing, isn’t it? You can definitely use it on your roses.

      You may sift a few tablespoons or so onto the leaves and stems of your plants to coat the surface in a fine dust, being sure to reapply after any rain if the problem persists. A mesh sieve devoted to garden use is great for this. Be sure to wear a dust mask when you apply it, as the particles can become airborne. Depending on the product, you may also make a spray of a few tablespoons DE per gallon of water. Keep in mind that not all formulations are made for spraying, and the first method is much easier to accomplish, especially for a small area.

      Good luck! Let us know how it goes, and happy gardening!

    • Thanks for your question, Arcelia. Have you already bought a big quantity of the stuff? The type recommended for garden use should be alright applied around the base of plants (as opposed to the kind for swimming pools). But we recommend using a product labeled as food grade since this means it’s recognized as safe for human consumption by the FDA. If you’ll be applying DE to the leaves of edible plants, better to be on the safe side.

  2. Will DE get rid of japanese beetles? Those nasty little critters just about ruined my rose bushes last year. I have the good grade DE. Thanks!!

    • Thanks for your question, Jeannie! Some experts are fans of DE for this purpose. They recommend sprinkling it onto the lawn around plants, directly onto the plants, and even on the bugs when you see them can help (though I’d recommend picking off the bugs and killing them on the spot when you see them). Changing your lawn irrigation and mowing habits can help, in an effort to create a less hospitable environment for the beetle grubs to develop. Insecticidal soap sprayed onto your plants can also help.

      Good luck! Please check out our article on preventing and eradicating Japanese beetles as well, if you haven’t already.

        • A variety of products are available, and all from the top brands are relatively similar with the active ingredient “potassium salts of fatty acids” – look for a liquid product, either concentrate or ready-to-spray, from Safer, Garden Safe, or Natria.




    • Thanks for your question, Felipe. The silica in food-grade DE won’t harm plant roots, but it isn’t water soluble. Liquid micronised DE, which can be absorbed by plant roots, is a different product which is broken down so the particles are very small.

    • Hi Sarah, yes it will kill ladybugs (not sure if you’re worried about beneficials or if you have an outbreak of Asian lady beetles, but either way it will kill them). Food grade DE is safe for your pets.

    • I use a large hair coloring tint bottle. It’s easy to squeeze the DE directly where you want it! I learned this when I had bed bugs! The DE made short work of them! I squeezed it with the tint bottle all along my baseboards, and I haven’t had a single bug in my home in 5 years! Not even a fly. I am now using it in my garden the same way! It works!

      • Hello, I was wondering if the strainer takes away from DE’s effectiveness? For Instance, this powder is suppose to have a sharp, cutting effect to penetrate the bug, just wondering if the strainer will eliminate this cutting effect? I have been using a strainer when applying DE and did not think about this until today.

        • Nope, the strainer won’t eliminate or reduce the effectiveness of DE. These sharp edges occur at a microscopic level, and using a strainer to scatter them shouldn’t have any detrimental effect. Good question, though!

    • Hi Lyle, use a hand duster, the one you dust the furniture with…. get the extended handle for hard to reach areas and you can get these anywhere….I got mine at the dollar store. Then put some DE in an old coffee can or even a large gal ziplock bag and and walk around and apply with your hand duster. It makes dusting DE very easy for me in my garden bed since I have a lot of grasshoppers everywhere….thinking on using these on aphids also. Good Luck 🙂

  4. Wonderful info….my lovely raspberries are wormy now but weren’t the first pickings. We had to go out of town for a week and came home to plants that needed watering and wormy berries. Should I cut my plants back and start over for next year?

  5. Would this work on fungus gnats in the soil of house plants? I bring in a lot of succulents for the winter and am inundated with those pesky creatures.

  6. When using in your home, do you just sprinkle it around all of your baseboards throughout your home? And how often do you need to reapply?

    • What type of pests are you trying to get rid of, Becky? Yes, sprinkling DE around baseboards and in any cracks or holes where bugs may find a way into your home is an effective treatment. Indoors, you will need to reapply after dusting or vacuuming.

  7. Does diatomaceous earth have expiry date? I put diatomaceous earth and found small mushroom sprouting on the pots that I put. Why is it so?

    • As long as it is kept dry in storage, DE does not expire. But it can sometimes harbor spores, such as those of Tricholoma viride, a type of fungus. Or, perhaps the soil in your pots contains mushrooms spores. In particularly moist conditions, mushrooms can sprout.

    • Yes, food grade DE can be used effectively against mealybugs indoors, but note that it’s generally recommended for use around baseboards and in cracks in the floor. Wearing gloves is recommended when handling it, and a mask is recommended to avoid inhalation. If any of your dishes, silverware, or cookware come into contact with the powder, washing is recommended before use.

  8. I have a spider mite problem from the information that i have found
    what honestly is not alot i understand it should shred thoes lill buggers
    and im testing it out as we speak but as aposed to just spreading the powder ive mixed it up in water and sprayed down my plants as a folier how effective is this method

      • This is true, since it’s a powdery substance. Be sure to reapply after it rains, or after watering. Fortunately, DE tends to come in large bags that are relatively affordable, and you don’t need much to sprinkle around your plants.

  9. What about more wet regions of the U.S., like Seattle, Wa? I have an ant problem but if applied outside the house to stop the ants, will this still be effective? If it needs to be reapplied after it gets wet, what are the good options here since having to do that every day is not practical?

  10. Learning about DE for pest control. Just purchased feed grade I am assuming that I can use this for pest control like the food grade. Am I correct??

    • You can, but keep in mind that this distinction is related to naturally occurring heavy metal content. “Food grade” DE has more strict specifications than “feed grade” regarding lead and arsenic. Food grade DE is what we recommend for use on edible plants and for household pest eradication, but both types can be used for pest control.

  11. Thank you Linsey for your very informative post. It’s highly educational, first one I read that came up, don’t need to read anything else you covered it all ????????????

    • Hi Jim,

      Yes, DE may be used to kill or repel earwigs as well as flea beetles, aphids, and cabbage worms, which are common pests that like Brassicas.

  12. There seems to be a third option besides “pool” and “food grade.” The last product photo in this article is for “safer” brand DE, and on their website, they specifically say that this one is for insect problems, and their FOOD GRADE is for adding to animal feed. So it seems that it’s not food grade, but not pool grade either. I can’t seem to find a clear answer about what the difference is between this not-food-grade and not-pool-grade version (and if there are other versions also in this category by other brands). Any thoughts on this? Thank you.

    • You are correct- the Safer brand product that you described does say it’s not food grade, and it is comprised of 85% silicon dioxide with 15% “other ingredients” – that’s where the concern lies, since these additives are not described in detail. Other products that we’ve seen labeled “food grade” are comprised of 99.9% pure silica. We’d recommend using something like this Safer brand product for insect control only around the base of edible plants in the garden.

      • Thank you! I could not see what the make-up of the Safer one was; the package only says “100% diatomaceous earth.” I will stick with using this only on non-edible houseplants or outdoor ant control as needed and will find food grade DE for anything we might eat.

    • Although the treatment can vary depending on which type of grub you’re dealing with, the first step should be to turn over the soil as much as you can without disturbing your plant’s roots. Handpick and destroy the grubs and let birds feed on them. Adding some beneficial nematodes can help as well. Good luck with your grub problem!

  13. I have a butterfly garden and didn’t see it mentioned if it will affect butterflies. I don’t use anything on my plants now except a soil enhancer.

    • Great question, Marie. Food grade diatomaceous earth is often recommended as an environmentally friendly form of pest control, but it isn’t recommended for use in areas/on plants frequented by beneficial insects like butterflies and their larvae. It cuts and dries out soft-bodied insects like caterpillars. However, if you are experiencing an infestation of insects that you would like to treat with DE at a time when larvae are not present, it may not be altogether off-limits. It washes off plants easily within about a week or two, after watering or rainfall. A plant that was once treated with DE doesn’t become unsafe for butterflies forever.

    • Hi there Opal.

      Because corn is so large, I would definitely wait until you spot insect eggs before bringing in the food grade DE.

      I would also sprinkle it on the earth at the base of the stalks first, before launching a major effort to coat those sizable leaves and cobs with DE. If you do have that need, remember to reapply after rain.

      The good news here is that since corn is typically pollinated via the wind, you don’t have to worry as much about the DE hurting the pollinators that might land there. But be sure to look back over Lindsay’s many cautions about using DE safely in the home garden, and her warnings about the effect on beneficial insects.

      Good luck with your corn!

    • Opal, since radishes grow so quickly, I would uproot what you have and replant more, ideally in a new spot or even a container.

      Get rid of all the affected leaves (in the trash, not the compost) and that will be a first step in keeping aphids out of your vegetable plot. We have a handy article that describes some other ways to prevent and combat aphids. Read it here.

      If you did want to use DE for radishes, and you spotted the aphids before they trashed the plants, I would recommend sprinkling the treatment on top of the soil at the base of the plant, first. Only if that doesn’t work to prevent the bugs from attacking your radishes would I move to treating the leaves.

      In general, with radishes, I would always advise you to plant the fastest-growing types, keep them evenly moist, and harvest them before the weather gets warm and the bugs find them. In other words, outrun the pests instead of spending lots of time with shakers of DE…

      I hope your garden is growing great. All the best!

  14. I use an old sock. I put about 2 tablespoons of DE in it and just pat it in my palm all around the plant, works great for me. This is cool, right?

    Did I read correctly this will kill slugs and snails?

    • I love this sock idea, Brian – looking forward to trying this application method in my own garden!

      As for the slugs/snails – though DE is excellent for use against many types of insects, some gardening sources will tell you that these garden mollusks would rather avoid the DE altogether, and that it has little effect. I’ve found other methods to be more effective for slug/snail control – see our article for more tips.

    • Application depends on where the infestation is based. Generally, Diatomaceous Earth should be sprinkled on your shelves and corners/edges where the wall and the floor meet. The goal is to put it where the bugs are walking so that they move through the DE. It works as long as its present, so there’s no need to re-apply unless it starts to disappear or after your vacuum the area. Good luck with tackling those beetles!

  15. My pepper plants look as if something has been chewing on them and my one tomato plant has some worm looking design on the leaves. I don’t have a clue what is going on. These are in pots on my patio and have always done great. We do have a trail of small ants on the posts on my patio. Would I put the DE around the bottom of the plant or on all of the leaves? Also, I don’t have a mask like you spoke of. Can I use a blue mask like they use in the doctors office. That’s what I use when I go out because of Covid. I’m a worrier and all this makes me nervous to use this. I bought a bag from our feed store and it didn’t come with instructions.

    • Don’t worry, Wilene! The mask is intended to keep you from inhaling the powder, which is very light and can puff up in a cloud or float on the air- a dust mask or the type of blue doctor’s mask like you described should be just fine. You could even tie a handkerchief over your face for protection.

      As for the pests, it’s hard to say exactly what might be chewing on the leaves if you haven’t spotted any insects. The pattern on the leaves of your tomato sound like leaf miners – the best course of action for these is to remove any leaves that have a tunnel pattern on them. This won’t hurt the plant, and it will prevent further spread if the tiny insects inside continue tunneling. Ants shouldn’t bother your plants either – I have some on one of my pepper plants right now, and they don’t typically cause any damage. However, the presence of ants may be a sign that you have aphids, since the ants like feeding on the honeydew that they exude. You can read more about aphids here.

      DE is most effective against soft-bodied insects. If you spot caterpillars or something similar munching on the pepper leaves, sprinkle it around the base of the plant, and on the leaves. Reapply after watering. Good luck!

    • Unfortunately DE won’t have an effect on mice. If you are looking for a natural solution to use outdoors, mint can be effective against various types of rodents (plants and essential oils), or you could try a natural repellent product. I recommend Tomcat Animal Repellent Granules, or a similar product made with nontoxic peppermint, cinnamon, and garlic.

  16. I have got scale insect and want to use but they hide in all the little crevices of the trees can I mix with oil to make it stick

    • Unfortunately mixing DE with oil will render it ineffective- it might make the powder stick, but getting it wet or applying oil will make it so those microscopic sharp edges can’t do their job. Try neem oil instead.

    • Hi Sandra. It could be used for scale, but it’s not workable to mix it with oil. That’s because the dry particles are key to the treatment’s success.

  17. I read in the comments that you can mix it with water and use as a spray. Is this effective in the garden as well? What is the difference with rain then? If you are watering would you have to reapply after each watering?

    • The issue with mixing DE with water for use as a spray is that it will not work when it’s wet, and as it dries this can lead to clumping. The most effective method for using it is to apply it as a dry powder, and reapply after it gets wet. Reapplying DE after watering or after periods of rain is recommended.

    • Interestingly enough, DE is not known to harm earthworms. They’re actually able to digest the substance, and surface applications will not affect them.

    • I have not used any products that are red myself, but perhaps the red element could be calcium montmorillonite (aka calcium bentonite)? As far as I know, this is a very soft material that can be used to prevent caking, and it may also be used as a digestive supplement in some cases. You’ll often find it in DE blends that are used as an additive in animal feed.

    • A simple shaker is often all that’s needed, or you could even shake it carefully onto your plants by the spoonful, if it isn’t windy out. One reader here also mentioned filling up a sock and using that to shake the DE onto their plants. Some products come with a small plastic duster that can be squeezed- the air that’s forced out will also puff the powder onto wherever you’re applying it.

      The choice is really yours, just keep in mind that the goal here is to apply the powder to the plants- not to create clouds in the air that could be inhaled and cause lung and eye irritation.

      We’d love to hear from other readers- how do you apply DE in the garden?

  18. I am being invaded by grasshoppers!! It seems like the plague of Egypt!! What is the best way to apply DE? They are on the walls of the greenhouse and all inside, and on the plants. It seems that they don’t like tomatoes luckily.

    • Dust it on the leaves and stems of plants, around the base of plants at the ground level, and around the corners of your greenhouse. Be sure to reapply after watering. Neem oil can work against grasshoppers as well. Good luck!

  19. Our lawn is infested with ants. Applying DE dry is not an option as the area is too big. I was hoping to be able to use DE as a spray but, from a previous comment, this doesn’t seem to be recommended. What are my options to get rid of the ants. It is not only a few nests, they are all over! Anything that can be sprayed would be good. We are in the UK by the way. Help please.

    • Apologies for the delay, Andree. Most of our writers do not work on the weekends, but we do our best to respond to reader questions in a timely manner.

      What do the ants look like, and how big are they? Do they bite? Are they affecting any other plants in the yard, or are their mounds more of a nuisance that you find unsightly, or that interferes with mowing? Can you upload photos?

      Different types of ants respond to different types of traps and treatments, and it’s going to be difficult to eradicate them from an entire lawn. Destroying one nest without killing the queen(s) can result in rebuilding, with nests in new locations.

      Black ants (Lasius niger) are common in the UK, and harmless- many gardeners recommend putting up with them rather than attempting eradication, if you can. They are attracted to sugar-based traps. Red ants (such as Myrmica rubra) may bite, which can be an issue particularly if you have pets or children who like to play on the lawn. And speaking of pets and children, be sure to use non-toxic treatments if they will be playing in the area.

      Steinernema feltiae, a species of beneficial nematode, can be effective as a biocontrol that you may spread on your lawn. You might like to start with this article on ant control and go from there to determine which species you are dealing with.

  20. Hi, I moved to a place with lots of garden room. Some things are already planted by previous owner & attracting lots of bees – yippee! Poor pollination had been a repeated problem in the past. If I sprinkle DE on leaves of my squash plants, is it going to affect the bees & therefore pollination of the squash flowers? I can’t really cover these plants & still hope for good bee pollination…?

    • That’s great that pollinators are attracted to your new garden space! DE can be harmful to bees, but they would need to walk through it. If you apply it at ground level rather than sprinkling it on the leaves, the bees shouldn’t come into contact with it at all when they are pollinating the flowers, and it should still have an effect on other insects like beetles and soft-bodies worms at the ground level.

      If pollination is still a concern, you could also give hand-pollination a try if you want to use row covers instead.

  21. As maple syrup producers we are very familiar with DE. It’s used for filtering syrup. I use it in my gardens and mixed it with sand for my chicken dust bath. I use a flour sifter to apply it. Works great. Don’t get this near pollinators and don’t be foolish enough to eat this! I had to tell a friend to stop believing everything she reads on social media.

  22. i asked that question before, but nobody replied, I AM DESPERATE, Can someone help please ! Our lawn is infested with ants. Applying DE dry is not an option as the area is too big. I was hoping to be able to use DE as a spray but, from a previous comment, this doesn’t seem to be recommended. What are my options to get rid of the ants. It is not only a few nests, they are all over! Anything that can be sprayed would be good. We are in the UK by the way. Help please.

    • You asked one day ago dude. Calm yourself. These bloggers aren’t working the weekend just in case Andree has an ant infestation. ENTITLEMENT.

      Anyhow, if you were to let them know what KIND of ants you have a problem with, that would likely go a long way to find solution.

      And no…you can’t spray DE. it’s loses any effectiveness when it gets wet. Dust a lawn with it. Yes. Spray it, no. Probably wouldn’t work too well for the rainy UK anyway.

  23. Hi,
    I have lots of gardens etc in my yard and patio stones adjacent (just one foot) to a concrete pad at my basement walkout. I sat down a week ago and saw jumping bugs all over these patio stones. The next day my dogs (we have 3 all on flea meds) went to the groomers and she asked if they were on flea meds. Fortunately they are and one had one live flea and 6 bites the other had 3 bites and the little one had none. I have serious bug infestation anxiety/OCD. I called an exterminator after not sleeping and he said put out food grade DE. I’ve done that. All over the stones, all over the adjacent yard, and then all over the side yard garden where I saw them as well. I did first spray with pest control in the specific stone area where I’d seen them (Max Ortho permethrin one) while waiting for a store to open to buy DE.
    anyway, with the DE down I saw some (very few but even one will tip me over) alive yesterday crawling around the DE. It was applied Monday night main area and all over on Tuesday. Today is Thursday and it’s raining. I understand it doesn’t work in rain. Am I best to clean up the mess of it and reapply in dry weather or trust it will dry out and be effective? Will it kill all the fleas if I leave it on for 2 weeks? Will they reproduce like crazy in the rain ????My dogs aren’t allowed out back any more neither are my kids until this is resolved. Sorry for the long post. Extremely anxious about bug infestations…btw lawn is also patchy and in terrible shape. And don’t know how fleas got there in first place. Literally was like nothing to next night saw bugs jumping like mad by the 100s…????

    • I can understand the anxiety, Tracy, and I’m sorry you’re experiencing issues with these insects! No need to apologize. 🙂

      Wet weather does provide the ideal breeding conditions for fleas, with reproduction slowing during periods of hot weather. Hoping the rains end for you soon, if they haven’t already!

      My best advice is to reapply in dry weather after rain. Wetness causes clumping, and the DE will lose its effectiveness. I can’t guarantee a time period for this, but you should plan to reapply until the problem is resolved.

  24. I’ve been reading a lot of posts that say the diatomaceous earth must be dry in order to work but earlier this spring when my snap peas were just sprouting they were being nipped off at ground level by cutworms. I sprinkled some food grade DE on the dirt along the rows and dug it in with my fingers. It was no longer visible but the day I did this was the last day I lost any seedlings to cutworms. I watered my garden as usual so I am sure the DE I dug in was not dry for very long. Because of this I tend to believe that DE can be used wet, although spraying my whole garden with it I will not do because of the threat to bees and other pollinators, I will certainly use it in the dirt around the plants for cutworms. For aphids I would just use a very small squirt bottle and pin-point the aphid clumps and try to stay away from any blossoms that pollinators may visit.
    Happy Gardening.

    • Hi Esther,

      I have seen recommendations for applying this product wet, so I don’t think that getting it wet makes it ineffective.

      I think the wet vs. dry issue is that often people apply this to plant foliage to kill unwanted pests – then if it rains (or if you water), it will wash the DE off, meaning that you will need to reapply if you are targeting a pest that’s on the foliage.

      I agree that using this product sparingly is a good idea – there are lots of beneficial and neutral garden insects that can be inadvertently harmed when applying diatomaceous earth, or most other pesticides for that matter.

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us and happy gardening to you too!

  25. Does diatomaceous earth work on hay or straw mites, which are miserable small no-seeum type bugs that really have a vicious bite that leaves a red itchy welt that takes days to go away? These mites seem to have invaded our barn and can be found in the hay bales and horse feed pellets.

    • Hi Nancy,
      Diatomaceous earth will kill the mites in your barn. Just make sure to use food grade DE which will be safer for both you and your horses.

      Check back in with us and let us know if it works for you!

  26. Hi, I’ve read through most of the comments and don’t think anyone has mentioned that it can help de-worm and de-flea your pets. There was mention of using it in a dust bath for chickens, but it can also be added to their feed to keep their gut healthy. Same goes for cats or dogs. It’s very effective.

  27. Can I used DE powder for my cactus and succulents? ‘Coz we are done airdrying now and we’re planning to mix DE powder to our mixsoil for cns… is it safe? And can u tell me how much DE powder I’m going to need?

    • Thanks for your questions, Richiel. Can you provide a little more detail? I’m not sure what you mean by “cns” – to me, this means “central nervous system” and plants like succulents don’t have one.

      Potting soil for cacti and succulents should be porous and well-draining, and mixing DE into the soil isn’t required. Rather, you can dust a light coating onto plants if they are infested with insects, particularly soft-bodies pests like worms and caterpillars. I’ve never had problems with these on my own succulents, though I do occasionally apply rubbing alcohol with a cotton swab to treat scale insects.

  28. Hi, I am interested to know if DE is useful against ‘Christmas Beetle’ larvea? They eat the roots of plants which are then unable to get nutrients from the ground. I am located in far north Queensland Australia.

    • Hi Leila,
      DE wouldn’t be the best option for controlling the type of pest you’re dealing with. DE only works as long as it stays dry, and I think dug into the soil where the larvae are, you wouldn’t be able to keep it dry.

      Here’s another option that I think would be more efficient for you – beneficial nematodes. These can be applied to the soil around the plants you’re trying to protect. The beneficial nematodes will actually target the grubs and kill them.

      I’m guessing you may not be able to import this particular product, NemaSeek, to Australia from the US, but I’m posting it here as an example of what to look for. Choose one that says that it is for grubs or larval insects.

      One last thing – we have an article on beneficial nematodes if you’d like to learn a bit more.

      I hope this helps!

    • Hello Darlene. You make a good point: Diatomaceous earth will work again once it dries.

      But you’ll still probably need to re-apply it after rain or even heavy dew, because either of those will wash the particles away.

      Also, just so no one gets the wrong idea: DE is not effective while it’s wet! So wait until those predicted showers have moved along before applying more, or you’ll spend all your gardening time with a shaker of DE in hand.

      Thanks for taking time to add to the comments, and I hope your garden is growing well.

  29. I am battling flea beetles. If I keep a layer of DE on the leaves, how does this not block the sun and the plants ability to photosynthesize.


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