Diatomaceous Earth: Effective Natural Pest Control

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

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/

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.

Keep pests at bay with your new best friend - DE. | GardenersPath.com

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.


Don’t forget to Pin It!

Diatomaceous earth is a wondrous powder made from the crushed bodies of prehistoric fossils, with many modern garden uses! Get tips for application as a natural pesticide. Plus, learn how to use it in your home and on your poultry flock in this guide from Gardener’s Path.

© 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.

4.5 6 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
95 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Catherine
Catherine (@guest_1407)
2 years ago

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?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Catherine
2 years ago

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… Read more »

Arcelia
Arcelia (@guest_1465)
2 years ago

If the package says for garden but nothing about food grade can I still use it around my herb garden?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Arcelia
2 years ago

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.

Jeannie Schroeder
Jeannie Schroeder (@guest_1632)
2 years ago

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!!

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Jeannie Schroeder
2 years ago

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… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_6060)
Reply to  Allison Sidhu
6 months ago

What insecticide soap do you recommend? Thanks

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Jim
6 months ago

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.

FELIPE CARAVEO
FELIPE CARAVEO (@guest_1658)
2 years ago

DEAR FRIEND:

I HAVE A QUESTION ABOUT AVAILABLE SILICE FOR DE ROOTS. IS SILICA FROM DE, AVAILABLE FOR THE ROOTS ?

IS POSSIBLE THAT THE ROOTS TAKE IN THE SILICA FRON DE, AS ANY OTHER FERTILIZER ?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  FELIPE CARAVEO
2 years ago

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.

Barb
Barb (@guest_1751)
2 years ago

Excellent and very helpful article!! Full of pertinent info. Thank you!!

Christopher
Christopher (@guest_1916)
2 years ago

Thank you very much for the article.

Ally
Ally (@guest_3505)
1 year ago

Will this harm beneficial insects?

Sarah
Sarah (@guest_3985)
1 year ago

Will DE kill ladybugs and can I use it on my pets?

Mike Quinn
Mike Quinn (@mike20)
Active Member
Reply to  Sarah
1 year ago

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.

Marie
Marie (@guest_4283)
1 year ago

Thank you! Will DE control lettuce insects such as aphids?

Lisa
Lisa (@guest_4394)
1 year ago

I use an old strainer with a long handle to apply my DE in my gardens. It works great and keeps things simplified.

Lyle Werner
Lyle Werner (@guest_4590)
1 year ago

Fire ants, works great!!

Lyle Werner
Lyle Werner (@guest_4591)
1 year ago

Use on fire ants!!

Lyle Werner
Lyle Werner (@guest_4592)
1 year ago

I find figuring out a way to apply it difficult. Have tried strainers, not a fan. Any suggestions?

Roxy
Roxy (@guest_4624)
Reply to  Lyle Werner
1 year ago

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!

Michelle
Michelle (@guest_4668)
Reply to  Roxy
1 year ago

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.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Michelle
1 year ago

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!

Art Laurejas
Art Laurejas (@guest_4700)
Reply to  Lyle Werner
1 year ago

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 🙂

Linda
Linda (@guest_4719)
1 year ago

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?

Angie Skiba
Angie Skiba (@guest_4749)
1 year ago

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.

don
don (@guest_4983)
1 year ago

how well will it work on cockroaches and fleas

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  don
1 year ago

It works well for cockroach and flea control. You can read more about ridding your garden of cockroaches here.

Becky
Becky (@guest_5078)
1 year ago

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?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Becky
1 year ago

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.

Wendy
Wendy (@guest_5243)
1 year ago

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?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Wendy
1 year ago

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.

Sandy
Sandy (@guest_5566)
10 months ago

can I use food grade diatomaceous earth in the corners of my kitchen drawers and cupboards to ward off the little mealy bugs

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Sandy
9 months ago

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.

Josh
Josh (@guest_5573)
9 months ago

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

Bianca
Bianca (@guest_6878)
Reply to  Josh
5 months ago

Hi, i’ve read it needs to be dry to be effective

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Bianca
5 months ago

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.

Chris
Chris (@guest_5721)
8 months ago

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?

Chris
Chris (@guest_5722)
Reply to  Chris
8 months ago

I understand that I can use it indoors but would prefer to also use it outside around the house edge to prevent the ants from entering in the first place.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Chris
8 months ago

Especially in wet areas, DE is not the most effective treatment against ants. Do you know what type or types you’re dealing with? We’re happy to help! First, check out our article on controlling ants inside and around your home.

AnnaMarie
AnnaMarie (@guest_5915)
7 months ago

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??

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  AnnaMarie
7 months ago

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.

Rosemarie
Rosemarie (@guest_5920)
7 months ago

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 🤗🌟😊

Joe
Joe (@guest_5986)
7 months ago

When I lived in Phoenix Arizona I used Diatomaceous Earth to kill scorpions. It worked great!

Jim
Jim (@guest_6059)
6 months ago

Hi…Does DE kill earwigs, and or Brassica pests

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Jim
6 months ago

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.

mindy
mindy (@guest_6413)
6 months ago

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.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  mindy
6 months ago

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.

mindy
mindy (@guest_6435)
Reply to  Allison Sidhu
6 months ago

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.

Kathy
Kathy (@guest_7171)
5 months ago

I have grubs in the soil of my garden raised beds. What’s the best way to get rid of them?

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren (@kristinelofgren)
Member
Reply to  Kathy
5 months ago

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!

Marie
Marie (@guest_7725)
5 months ago

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.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Marie
5 months ago

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… Read more »

Opal
Opal (@guest_7839)
4 months ago

How and when is DE used on corn crops?

Opal
Opal (@guest_7840)
4 months ago

My radishes got eaten by aphids. Do I dust with DE and hope for the best or replant with a treatment?

Brian L Armstrong
Brian L Armstrong (@guest_8038)
4 months ago

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?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Brian L Armstrong
4 months ago

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.

Katlyn Ouellette
Katlyn Ouellette (@guest_8148)
4 months ago

I have larder beetles in my home. Where and how often should I apply the DE in order to get rid of them?

Kristine Lofgren
Kristine Lofgren (@kristinelofgren)
Member
Reply to  Katlyn Ouellette
4 months ago

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!

Wilene
Wilene (@guest_8207)
4 months ago

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.… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Wilene
4 months ago

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… Read more »

Pam
Pam (@guest_8484)
3 months ago

What do you suggest for mice?

Mary Ann
Mary Ann (@guest_8526)
Reply to  Pam
3 months ago

I need help with mice as well!

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Pam
3 months ago

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.

Sandra
Sandra (@guest_8498)
3 months ago

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

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Sandra
3 months ago

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.

Sandra
Sandra (@guest_8499)
3 months ago

Can it be used for scale insect and can u mix with oil

David Hofer
David Hofer (@guest_8610)
3 months ago

Can I presoak DE for root maggots

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  David Hofer
3 months ago

Do you know which type of root maggots you have, David? What plants are they affecting? DE cannot be mixed with water. Try beneficial nematodes instead, or a product like Ecotrol G.

Nichole
Nichole (@guest_8643)
3 months ago

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?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Nichole
3 months ago

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.

Nichole
Nichole (@guest_8644)
3 months ago

Will DE harm earthworms or compost worms?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Nichole
3 months ago

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

Rick Rozanski
Rick Rozanski (@guest_8783)
3 months ago

I found that there are two types one is red and the other white. What’s the difference?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Rick Rozanski
3 months ago

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.

Rick Rozanski
Rick Rozanski (@guest_8784)
3 months ago

What’s the best device to apply DE?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Rick Rozanski
3 months ago

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… Read more »

Cynthia Warner
Cynthia Warner (@guest_8914)
3 months ago

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.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Cynthia Warner
3 months ago

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!

Andree
Andree (@guest_8999)
3 months ago

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.

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Andree
3 months ago

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… Read more »

GrdnGurl
GrdnGurl (@guest_9007)
3 months ago

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…?

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  GrdnGurl
3 months ago

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.

Mary Porter
Mary Porter (@guest_9016)
3 months ago

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.

Andree
Andree (@guest_9017)
3 months ago

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.

Molly K
Molly K (@guest_9018)
Reply to  Andree
3 months ago

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.

Tracy
Tracy (@guest_9184)
2 months ago

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… Read more »

Allison Sidhu
Allison Sidhu (@allison-sidhu)
Admin
Noble Member
Reply to  Tracy
2 months ago

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.

Esther Hicks
Esther Hicks (@guest_9489)
2 months ago

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… Read more »

Kristina Hicks-Hamblin
Kristina Hicks-Hamblin (@kristinahickshamblin)
Member
Member
Reply to  Esther Hicks
2 months ago

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… Read more »

Nancy
Nancy (@guest_9530)
2 months ago

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.

Kristina Hicks-Hamblin
Kristina Hicks-Hamblin (@kristinahickshamblin)
Member
Member
Reply to  Nancy
2 months ago

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!

Carol
Carol (@guest_9606)
2 months ago

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.