Yes, diatomaceous earth (DE) kills ants. In fact, DE is often used as a natural and safe means to control ants. It cuts through the ant exoskeleton and causes rapid water loss. Ants that make contact with DE eventually die from dehydration.
In this article we’ll learn more about DE as we discuss the following:
- What is diatomaceous earth?
- How does DE kill ants?
- Is DE good for killing ants?
- The benefits of using DE
- How to use DE
- Precautions when using DE
We’ll also look into alternatives to DE and how to prevent ant infestations.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock. It consists of fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. It’s typically white or light-colored and has a powdery texture. 
DE is used in various applications, including filtration, food processing, and pest control. It’s safe for humans and pets to ingest in small amounts. That’s why it’s a popular choice for natural pest control.
Types of DE
There are two main types of diatomaceous earth: food-grade and industrial-grade.
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for human consumption. It’s used in many applications, including food production, animal feed, and pest control. Food-grade DE contains no harmful chemicals or additives.
Industrial-grade DE, on the other hand, is used as an abrasive in industrial processes. It is often treated with heat or chemicals and may contain harmful substances. These substances include crystalline silica which can be dangerous when inhaled.
Industrial-grade DE should not be used for pest control. Nor should it be used for other applications where it may come into contact with humans or animals.
Use food-grade diatomaceous earth only.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Ants?
DE is composed of microscopic, razor-sharp particles that can cut through the exoskeleton. This causes the ant to dehydrate and die over time. When ants come into contact with DE, it absorbs the waxy outer layer of their exoskeleton. This leads to the loss of moisture and eventually death. 
How Long Does Diatomaceous Earth Take to Work on Ants?
Diatomaceous earth works slowly to kill ants. It can take several hours or days for ants to die after coming into contact with the powder. It all depends on the species and how much powder they come into contact with.
Severe infestations may need multiple applications of DE over several days or weeks.
Is Diatomaceous Earth Good for Killing Ants?
Yes, diatomaceous earth is an effective and natural way to kill ants. This process is slow but effective. Additionally, it’s safe for humans and pets.
Unlike chemical pesticides, it is non-toxic and won’t harm the environment. This makes it a great option for those who are looking for a natural solution to ant infestations.
That said, DE only works when used properly. It has to make direct contact with ants to work.
The Benefits of Using Diatomaceous Earth for Ant Control
Effective Against Other Pests
In addition to killing ants, DE can also get rid of other pests such as bed bugs and cockroaches. Their exoskeletons are also affected in the same way as ants. This makes diatomaceous earth a versatile solution for pest control.
Indoor and Outdoor Use
Diatomaceous earth can work both indoors and outdoors to control ant populations. You can apply it in cracks and crevices where ants may enter homes or buildings.
You can also sprinkle it around outdoor areas such as gardens or patios where ants may create nests.
No Evidence of Resistance to Development
There is no evidence that ants can develop resistance to diatomaceous earth. This means that it can remain an effective solution for controlling ant populations. You won’t have to worry about changing products frequently.
DE is a cost-effective solution for ant control. Especially when you compare it to hiring professional exterminators or purchasing chemical insecticides. A small amount of powder goes a long way in controlling ant populations effectively.
How Do You Use Diatomaceous Earth for Ants?
To use diatomaceous earth to kill ants, follow these steps:
- Locate ant trails and entry points: Look for areas where ants are entering your home and where they are most active.
- Apply DE: Sprinkle a thin layer of DE on the ant trail and around any entry points, such as windowsills or doorways. You may also sprinkle DE on plants.
- Monitor: Watch the areas you have treated. Determine whether you need follow-up treatment.
- Reapply as needed: DE can lose effectiveness when it gets wet. You may need to reapply it after rainfall or if you notice ants returning.
- Be patient: While DE is effective at killing ants, it may take several days or even weeks to see results. Patience is key when using this natural ant control method.
- Use Diatomaceous Earth as a Preventative Measure: You can also use DE as a preventative measure by applying it around the perimeter of your home. This will deter ants from entering your home in the first place.
- Clean up: Be sure to clean up DE after the ants are gone. Use a mop or wet towel to pick up the remaining DE.
Precautions When Using Diatomaceous Earth
While DE is generally safe, it’s essential to take precautions when using it. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Use only food-grade diatomaceous earth: Can’t stress it enough. Use food-grade DE only. Industrial-grade DE contains harmful chemicals and should not be used for pest control.
- Wear a mask and gloves when handling DE: While DE is non-toxic, it can cause respiratory discomfort when inhaled. It can also cause irritation on your hands.
- Keep DE away from children and pets: Keep DE out of reach from children and pets to avoid inhalation.
- Apply a thin layer of powder: A thick layer of powder is not necessary and can be less effective. A thin layer will still be effective in killing ants while minimizing the risk of inhalation.
Other Natural Ways to Get Rid of Ants
Diatomaceous earth isn’t the only natural option for ant control. You can also use borax, a naturally occurring mineral. When ingested, it disrupts ants’ digestive systems and ultimately causes them to die.
That said, borax isn’t as safe as DE. It can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if you ingest it. Ingesting large amounts can lead to shock and kidney failure. Additionally, inhalation can cause irritation.
If you don’t want to use DE or Borax, here are a few other options:
- Lemon juice
- Essential oils
Ants hate the smell of all these options. They mask the smell of scent trails and confuse ants. As a result, these options deter them. Just note, however, that these are not permanent solutions to ant infestations.
If you have severe infestations, you may want to opt for chemical control. They are generally more suited for eliminating ant colonies. Use baits, insecticides, or call a pest control professional.
How to Prevent Ant Infestations
There are many ways to get rid of ant infestations. However, the best way to handle ants is to prevent these infestations in the first place. Here are a few tips on how to prevent ant infestations:
- Keep your house clean and free of food debris: Regularly wipe down your counters, sweep the floors, and store food properly. Seal your trashcans and keep food in airtight containers.
- Keep your house dry: Be sure to fix leaks and address any moisture issues.
- Cover possible entry points: Seal any cracks or gaps in walls or foundations. Trim down vegetation that may allow ants to enter your home.
Summary: Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Ants?
To summarize, diatomaceous earth kills ants. It’s a natural and effective way to control ant infestations. Its abrasive properties damage the exoskeleton of ants and cause water loss. Eventually, they dehydrate and die. All in all, DE is a safe and organic alternative to chemical pesticides.