Diatomaceous Earth for Ants

Getting rid of ants inside your home or outside in your garden can be a difficult task.  Insects come into your house through your windows and doors when not sealed properly.  Preventing an infestation is the first step but if there is already an infestation, use the techniques below to get rid of ants using natural methods.  Using diatomaceous earth for ants and ant control is a great natural way to kill ants and insects in your home.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous Earth also known as D.E., diatomite, is a naturally occurring, fossilized hard-shelled microscopic-algae and marine phytoplankton.  These fossils siliceous sedimentary rock are ground into a white to off-white talc-like powder. This natural pest control is non-toxic to humans and animals.  Also, there are no-known side effects.  This powder can is available in our homemade ant killer section.

Diatomaceous Earth Ant Killer How it Works

One of diatomite’s uses is for an effective insecticide and ant poison.  It kills ants and other pests due to its rough and sharp molecular properties.  When applied to the out layer of ants and pests, the exoskeleton, the fine powder dehydrates the insects by absorbing lipids from their waxy outer layer.  The other way this is considered an ant killer is because of it’s sharp properties, cuts up and gets stuck in their joints.

Both of these processes do not hurt mammals which is why it is non-toxic and safe for humans and pets.  Since, it dehydrates and damages the insects from the outside, it is best to apply by sprinkling it on top of or around the insects.  Farmers use this on by spreading this on grain and food storage.  This process shows how safe it is for humans.  One warning is that DE is known to cause temporary respiratory issues if inhaled in large quantities, if an extremely large amount is inhaled, people may cough and have shortness of breath.

How Long Does It Take for Ants to Die from Diatomaceous Earth?

After sprinkling or spraying DE you will start to see the effects within 24 – 48 hours due to dehydration.

An ant will gather it and start sharing it to the rest of the nest can take a few days or a few weeks depending on the size of the colony. A single ant that consumes it will die within 24 – 48 hours due to dehydration.

How to Get Rid of Ants Naturally with Diatomaceous Earth

To get rid of ants with diatomaceous earth it needs to be applied by sprinkling in or around the areas that are being treated. This acts as a deterrent and a repellent.  It is very important that the powder stays dry.  Humidity can affect how this performs as an insect killer.  Once wet it becomes ineffective as pest control but once dried out it works well as a natural ant killer as it did before it was wet.

Grades of Diatomaceous Earth for Insecticide Use

There are different types of DE so it is important to use food-grade DE .  Food grade diatomaceous earth in agriculture applications for the preservation of grain during storage, as feed supplement, and as an insecticide. The food-grade DE is made to be very fine, has low levels of crystal silica and is uncalcinated.  The food grade has very strict specifications around heavy metal content like lead and arsenic because of safety concerns.  Using other grades will vary in quality and could potentially cause health risks or damage to the environment which it is used within.

Diatomaceous Earth vs Ant Bait Traps

Diatomaceous Earth for ants is not considered an ant trap, since ants are not attracted to DE and ants die from being exposed to it on their exoskeleton rather than ingesting it.  The best use for this natural method of ant prevention is to use it as a deterrent.  To get rid of an ant colony products like, TERRO Liquid Ant Baits and Ant traps are the effective treatment.  

Best Way to Apply Diatomaceous Earth for Ants and Ant Prevention

The most effective way to use diatomaceous earth for ants and to prevent ants is to sprinkle it around the areas that are trying to protect.  The other effective technique is to apply it wet and let it dry, which is called the wet application.  To do this, mix DE with water and spray it on or around the target area.  Once this solution has dried it has similar results to applying it dry.

These methods act as ant repellents creating a barrier that they ants will die from if crossed.  When applying it directly on ants or the ant colonies, they are killed within a couple of days. Check out our other Natural Nontoxic Ant Killers.

All supplies can be found in our section Homemade Ant Sprays and Ant Traps

Instructions for Diatomaceous Earth Dry Application:

Supplies for Dry Application:

Steps for Dry Application:

  1. Identify flat areas around your house or outside that have ant hills, ant trails, entry points and the food source that the ants are traveling towards. Use a wet application in areas that they are traveling vertically on walls.
  2. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth for ants around these areas using a sifter or a duster for more targeted areas.
  3. After applying the treatment observe if it has deterred the ants or they are taking another route to the food source. Repeat if necessary .

Instructions for Diatomaceous Earth Wet Application:

Supplies for Wet Application:

Steps for Wet Application:

  1. Identify flat or vertical areas on walls around your house or outside.  Use a wet application for ant hills, ant trails and walls because this application is best for more precise or hard to reach areas. You should also use this application if you have areas that the ants are traveling on walls.
  2. Fill 1 gallon of warm water into a container.
  3. Add ¼ cup of DE in the gallon of warm water,
  4. Apply to areas and for best results, use a spray bottle for accuracy.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Pets?

Even though Diatomaceous Earth is safe it can still cause lung and respiratory issues if inhaled in large quantities.  Pets need lower amounts to cause issues and irritations. It’s not recommended that this is used in large quantities around animals or pets.  For more information please contact a veterinarian.

For more pet safe ant killers, please see our pet safe homemade ant killers.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Children and People?

Food grade Diatomaceous earth is a natural insecticide per the EPA’s insecticide classification.  The EPA has also deemed it as a minimum risk ingredient in pesticides for both food and nonfood use.  The use of food-grade DE very strict specifications around heavy metal content like lead and arsenic.  Other grades do not carry these types of specifications and could be harmful to humans, pets and the environment.  Always use proper safety equipment like gloves, proper eye protection and mask when applying DE.  Because the particles are so fine and small it is important to use a proper safety mask.  If inhaled in large amounts it can cause lung problems like coughing and shortness of breath. There is also a possibility that it will cause irritation to the eyes, because of its sharp properties and the silica.




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