As summer approaches, flea problems become more commonplace since most insects’ hatching cycles are active when it is hot. They are itchy and irritating bugs that can cause high vet bills for your pets. Fortunately, there are many practical and affordable ways to eliminate fleas.
Diatomaceous earth is thought of as a universal solution for bug problems, but can it kill fleas, as well? In this article, I will answer some questions about the compound and how fleas respond to it. I will also answer additional questions about the due process of using it in both indoor and outdoor conditions.
In short, diatomaceous earth kills fleas and acts as a natural insecticide. Keep reading more to find out how to use diatomaceous earth and how it kills fleas.
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What is Diatomaceous Earth, and Can it Kill Fleas?
Diatomaceous earth is a powdered compound used in items like toothpaste, soil, and insecticides. The primary component is fossilized diatoms, a type of algae-like protist. Upon fossilization, they are ground into powders and mixed into various compounds.
The reason this material is helpful is because of its composition. Diatomaceous earth is abrasive, so it works well as a polish for teeth and machines. It’s light and easy to produce, and since it is mostly silicon, it doesn’t harm the environment. The ocean is full of this compound, and it isn’t toxic to birds, fish, or other creatures besides insects.
Why does diatomaceous earth work as an insecticide? It is due to how the compound absorbs water and lipids as a highly sorptive material. When insects land on the earth, it eats away at their waxy exoskeletons. As a result, most of the water in their bodies evaporates, leaving them to die of dehydration.
Can diatomaceous earth kill fleas as well? Absolutely. Fleas are resilient with tough exoskeletons to resist crushing and swatting. If diatomaceous earth eats away at that layer, they are susceptible to dehydration and often die. Therefore, the compound is excellent for controlling them and preventing infestations.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas
You will need to approach flea eradication differently depending on your setting. Diatomaceous earth works for treating flea issues both inside and outside, although application methods vary.
Let’s address some of the most common questions about how to use this compound and for how long.
In outdoor areas, fleas crowd around sources of food. Typically, they prefer to stick around plants and garbage since they do not suck blood until adulthood. Flea larvae feed on organic matter such as leaves and feces until maturity.
Can you use diatomaceous earth for fleas in the yard? Absolutely.
The best way to use diatomaceous earth outdoors is to sprinkle a ring around flea sources. If you notice the pests crowding on a specific plant or near the garbage, create a loop of the white powder around them. Dusting leaves is also effective. The fleas will not be able to escape the ring without lethal exposure to the compound.
Outside, fleas tend to lay their eggs in the soil or near food sources. As a result, this method reliably stops new insects from reaching maturity.
Since diatomaceous earth is absorbent, it isn’t as effective when wet. Apply the rings in your yard when it’s dry and reapply after it rains. Don’t worry about other wildlife or your plants—this compound is only lethal to insects. Fortunately, it kills other garden pests like slugs in the process.
After a few hours, any fleas exposed to diatomaceous earth will begin to dehydrate and die. Afterward, you can sweep up the compound and dispose of it at your leisure.
Can you use diatomaceous earth for fleas in the house? Yes, you can.
Indoors, fleas like to reside on carpets or household pets. It is unsafe to use diatomaceous earth on animals since it is an irritant if accidentally ingested. Using the compound on a carpet is a safer way of reducing their numbers.
The treatment procedure is very similar to eradicating carpet beetles. First, use a vacuum cleaner thoroughly on the carpet. While this won’t remove most of the fleas, it will kill most larvae and eggs.
After thoroughly cleaning the surface of the carpet, apply diatomaceous earth in either powder or spray form. Each product will have a label specifying exactly how much of the compound to use and for how long. Be very careful not to inhale or ingest any dust while applying the material, and consider using protective equipment.
How long do you leave diatomaceous earth on the carpet for fleas? After application, I recommend leaving the compound undisturbed for at least half a day. Once the insects expose themselves to it, they usually only survive for a few hours, but it is much better to be safe and sure.
During this time, be sure to prevent your pets or young children from entering the room. There are no grave health consequences for pets or children touching the compound, but it could mess up the flea eradication process.
Once that time passes, carefully vacuum the compound from the carpet. I advise multiple sweeps to avoid potential skin irritation from whatever is leftover.
Frequently Asked Questions
You now know how to apply the material for killing fleas, both indoors and outdoors. Let’s address some frequently asked questions about how to buy diatomaceous earth, other uses for the material, and more.
Which Diatomaceous Earth Mixture Do I Buy?
You should buy and use food-grade diatomaceous earth for fleas. Regular versions of the mixture are full of silicates and are only effective for filtration. Food-grade earth is more versatile for uses such as pest control. Thankfully, most packaging bottles and bags clearly state which kind they contain.
Is Diatomaceous Earth Toxic?
The FDA lists diatomaceous earth as “Generally Recognized as Safe.” However, it is a semi-toxic substance that can cause health issues if you use it improperly. The best way to avoid irritation in the lungs is to avoid directly ingesting or breathing in the compound. Use a facemask and gloves when handling it, even if you buy the purified “food-grade” version.
If you do ingest some of the compound, do not worry. The body absorbs little diatomaceous earth when it enters the lungs and digestive tract. Although you may experience slight itchiness, dryness, or discomfort, the mixture you ingested will be excreted after a while. Some have concerns that diatomaceous earth is a possible carcinogen. However, according to the National Pesticide Information Center, only mice are known to be more susceptible to lung cancers in a controlled environment with this compound. There is no evidence suggesting it could pose a similar threat to the human body.
Should I use Diatomaceous Earth or Boric Acid?
When comparing diatomaceous earth versus boric acid for fleas, the answer is mostly a matter of preference. However, there is one difference between the methods that you should consider.
The primary difference is the side effects of each method. As stated before, diatomaceous earth is an irritant when inhaled but poses no further threat to humans and their pets. However, boric acid can cause slightly more serious health complications.
Boric acid is absorbed through the skin, meaning it is easier to expose oneself to it. Once a person or creature makes contact, the chemical can cause skin rashes, vomiting, nausea, headaches, lethargy, and tremors. A less toxic version of boric acid, called Borax, is capable of inflicting these symptoms to a lesser degree, as well.
When you handle and apply them carefully, picking diatomaceous earth or boric acid makes no difference. However, the former has a much lower risk of side effects and is more challenging to use improperly. That is why I advise using diatomaceous earth over boric acid for fleas.
Can I Use Diatomaceous Earth for Worms in Dogs?
Many have cited diatomaceous earth as an effective dewormer for animals like dogs. However, the effectiveness of this compound in eliminating gastrointestinal pests is not straightforward. Many studies suggest that diatomaceous earth as worm treatment is limited or not noticeable.
Most veterinarians recommend against using the compound as well. There are a few reasons for this.
To begin, diatomaceous earth does not work against worm eggs. As a result, application periods for dogs are long, lasting up to about a month of continual feeding. Secondly, during that time, your pet is subject to continual irritation in the lungs and digestive tract from the abrasive, coarse powder.
Despite the risks, the compound effectively eradicates worms. I suggest that you discuss this with a trusted veterinarian before you consider feeding food-grade diatomaceous earth to your pet.
Conclusion For Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas
Now you know about the composition and uses of diatomaceous earth as a pesticide. It is exceptional against fleas, killing them often only a few hours after contact. It is versatile and safe to use both indoors and outdoors as long as you handle it properly.
While it is an effective compound for pest treatment, please remember to handle it with care. Use gloves and a face mask to avoid inhalation, and call a Poison Control Center if you suspect severe health complications.
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Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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