Diatomaceous Earth as Non-Toxic Ant Killer

comments (6) February 7th, 2010

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ChrisMcLaughlin Chris McLaughlin, contributor
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Have ants invaded your home yet?
Photo by ARS under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.
This looks like a good place for diatomaceous earth.
Photo by riabaeck under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0,.
Have ants invaded your home yet?
Photo by ARS under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.Click To Enlarge

Have ants invaded your home yet?


Photo by ARS under the Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0.

Have they invaded you yet? Those million-line-soldiers that cover your floor, counters and cat food? I haven't met anyone yet who enjoys even a small ant invasion in their house. If you find that ants are holding an ant convention in your home, it's actually the outside that you need to concentrate on if you want the little buggers gone for good.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is not only inexpensive and effective; it's non-toxic to kids, birds, and pets. And yet it destroys ants, earwigs, slugs, beetles, ticks, fleas, cockroaches, and bed bugs. As these pasts move across the powder, it sticks to their feet and legs only to get into their joints and exoskeleton.

DE is made up of crushed fossilized skeletons of diatoms and algae. Some people claim that the DE jagged and sharp so it works like little pieces of broken glass and scratches up the insects' bodies then dries up their fluids. But I've also heard it said that instead of scrathing up their bodies, the DE is absorbed into the bug's breathing tubes as well as their joints, eyes, etc. I'm not sure I care about exactly how it works - just that the bugs quit eating and death isn't far behind.

To humans and pets, DE feels like powder and is completely harmless. That said, you don't necessarily want diatomaceous earth in your lungs, so wear a dusk mask when you're applying it. One thing you need to know is that there are different grades of diatomaceous earth. You don't want the stuff used for swimming pools. Purchase horticultural grade DE.

This is cheap pest control, so feel free to apply it liberally around the parameters of your house, in the garden or shrubs, and right on the ants' nest if you can find it. It's also safe to use in the back of cupboards or what-have-you. DE isn't an instant kill; it could take days or weeks to be rid of ants completely. But you will be rid of them without sacrificing anything else.

It would be remiss of me not to state that if ants aren't pestering you; don't pester them. Ants can be useful as pollinators and soil aerators, just as they can be protectors and defenders of the plant-sucking aphid. That said, if they attempt a hostile take-over into my home, it's every species for itself.

posted in: ants, diatomaceous earth, nontoxic pest control

Comments (6)

diegobind writes: My advice also don't use borax if you have kids and pets inside your home. I recommend you to use non toxic ant killer spray that is safe for kids and pets. It is 100% natural and non toxic and no smell, no stain. I have used ant spray it is very effective against ants. It is safe for kids and pets that's why I brought it online from Amazon. You can buy from amazon, here is the link -

Posted: 10:14 am on July 18th
mcgiver10 writes: Do not know if this works testing it now, Do know that Borax, 20 Mule Team does work and is non toxic as well.
Posted: 2:30 pm on July 15th
Susanrad writes: I am sick in bed and was using my microphone on my iPhone. I noticed many spelling errors :/ I guess I need to be more careful using this feature..I just felt compelled to explain so my request is taken seriously :)
Thank you!
Posted: 6:20 pm on January 5th
Susanrad writes: I have upstairs condo that is a rental (5hrs away).
Before Christmas my tenant said that she had ants. I called Terminex and they said they had a non-toxic powder that they use since my tenant has a baby. I asked her if it was diatomaceous earth, she didn't say no. I knew it diatomaceous earth in the garden but didn't realize that it worked for ants as well. She quoted me $200. I suggested to my tenant that she get some diatomaceous earth to combat them, but apparently she's been too lazy to do it, but once me to spend $200 for Termine next to do it. I have called a handyman to take care of it but since it's upstairs I was curious can it just be used under the sink and back of cupboards? My tenant felt like it was coming from downstairs. Any suggestions?
Posted: 6:17 pm on January 5th
sammyholderman writes: I LOVE DE. I first found it when looking or a safe, organic solution to garden critters, but quickly discovered its fantastic ability to kill fleas, ticks...and yes, ants. It may take a few days, but you will definitely see the ants disappear (as in die!) Not sure if it works on all species, but it worked on mine. I buy mine here because I trust the quality and include it in my dogs' and chickens' feed to control internal parasites. I wouldn't buy it from just anyone. They also have a lot of information about how to use it. Just scroll down on this page for all the info: http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/ProductCart/pc/Diatomaceous-Earth-Food-Grade-p39.htm
Posted: 10:45 am on August 28th
Matt_M writes: Uncovered a massive nest today in the little planter strip by my front door. Broadcast DE over the whole planter, then a solid trail around the whole perimeter. Fingers crossed that it helps. Wouldn't normally mess with them, but this was a HUGE nest and right against the side of the house.
Posted: 11:34 pm on May 2nd
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