Fleas are a nuisance for pet owners and controlling them often involves a struggle that consists of chemical sprays, toxic powders, harmful pet shampoos or quarantines. However, getting rid of these tiny pests need not always include such a struggle. More and more pet owners are turning to greener methods like diatomaceous earth powder for flea control as they work without harming the environment.
What is diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth is nothing but a soft sedimentary rock that is available in powdered form. It mainly contains fossilized ‘diatoms’ that are hard-shelled algae like water plants. The presence of these fossilized remains is the main reason why diatomaceous earth (DE powder) finds use in filtration, mechanized insect repellence as well as for mild abrasion.
The several benefits of diatomaceous earth powder have made it popular as a natural insect killer that targets fleas, bed bugs, ants, roaches, mites, ticks, crickets, lice, aphids, slugs and other household and garden pests.
How does diatomaceous earth powder work?
At a microscopic level, diatomaceous earth powder contains razor sharp edges that make it highly effective as a bug killer. The bugs ingest this porous powder and get severely dehydrated from inside out. The sharp edges also shred the insects’ insides as well as their exoskeletons. The best part is that the entire process takes very little time.
Additionally, since the powder has a mechanical action, there is no question of the fleas getting immune to it, as is normally the case with other kinds of chemical flea killers available in the market.
How long does the action of diatomaceous earth powder last?
It is important to keep the DE powder dry; else it loses its effectiveness. Exposure to rainwater must be avoided as far as possible especially when treating the yard, porches etc for killing fleas.
Reapplication of DE powders must be done every few weeks, since majority of the household pests including fleas have a laying cycle of 7 to 21 days.
Steps to use diatomaceous earth for flea control
- Always use food grade DE powder for organic flea control. Remember that not all DE powders are the same and the ones used in swimming pool or charcoal filters are known to contain unnatural ingredients that may be carcinogenic. Most organic variants that are used for pest control are heat treated and hence assume the crystalline form. The amorphous varieties of DE powder are also obtained from fresh water sources.
- Ensure using gardening gloves when handling the diatomaceous earth as it is dehydrating and can dry the skin. Similarly, to prevent the dust from harming the mucous membranes, you must wear a dust mask for protecting the mouth and nose.
- Before sprinkling the powder indoors on carpets, make sure you completely vacuum these areas.
- Allow the diatomaceous earth to remain on the carpets for at least 3 days thereafter you can vacuum them. This ensures that the eggs, larvae as well as adult fleas are taken care of by the powder.
- As stated before, it is essential to reapply the powder every week for 30 days and continue to vacuum every 3 days after application.
Benefits of using diatomaceous earth for flea control
There are many benefits for using diatomaceous earth for controlling fleas in your home:
- It is non toxic and safe for humans as well as pets making it the best alternative to harmful chemicals and sprays.
- Food grade organic DE powder is readily available in gardening supply stores.
- It has a mechanical action, so, unlike other chemical flea control products, the fleas do not get immune to it.
- Organic DE powder can also be directly applied to the pets’ coats along the backbone, taking care not to get the powder in the pet’s eyes.’
- Many pet owners also use diatomaceous earth in their pets’ food to prevent joint and hip problems. It is excellent for de-worming.
- Apart from dogs and cats, DE powders can also be used to treat fleas, mites, ticks, and lice etc. on birds as well as livestock such as pigs, cows, horses, pigs, sheep, rabbits etc.
If you want to try out diatomaceous earth, you can get it on Amazon.
Got fleas? Find out which products work in 2019, with my updated flea control product comparison chart.