Does diatomaceous earth kill termites? Is it effective? Does it work?

Diatomaceous Earth for Termites – Does it Work?

does Diatomaceous Earth work for Termites
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In the pest control field, there are few more ubiquitous and proven result-driven products as diatomaceous earth. This white, crystalline powder works by shredding the waxy cuticle on the outside of an insect’s exoskeleton, which causes rapid dehydration and eventual death. DE powder works against a massive number of insects both inside and outside the home, including the wood-eating termite.

Does diatomaceous earth for termites work?

Termites are hard to eradicate once they infest the structure of a home, so a residual insecticide may be needed to eliminate them. Diatomaceous earth can destroy a termite colony and ensure elimination.

Termites are one of the hardest insect invasions to eradicate from a home. Once a colony begins to infest and feed on wood, the rapid reproduction of the queen termite keeps the colony growing. Since termites usually reside inside of structures, it can be difficult to apply poison properly, so a strong residual insecticide will be needed to ensure results.

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Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Termites? Is it Effective?

Like bed bugs, getting rid of termites is a monumental effort and if you are choosing to fight against them on your own, the only way you can hope to achieve success is with a powerful and trusted residual product. Diatomaceous Earth (DE powder for short) is an all-purpose pest control product–meaning that virtually any insect that has a waxy outer shell–which includes termites–is susceptible to its action. The benefits of this product are its long residual component, which can last upwards of a decade if the product is undisturbed and dry.

The key to DE powder’s effectiveness is in the application process, which must be followed correctly in order to achieve success against insect’s as elusive as termites. For subterranean termites, once these species if termite is inside of the home, you will have to treat all wood structures to begin the killing process, but if you live in an area prone to termites, using this product as a precaution is a smart idea. If a home has a crawl space, but no termite activity, diatomaceous earth can be applied to certain areas to prevent them; you can also spread the material along the foundation wall and around areas where pipes will penetrate the slab before the slab is poured, just as would be done in conventional termite pretreatment by contractors.

DE powder will work to ensure that all active worker termites crawl through the poison, which will slice their outer shell ensuring rapid dehydration. Additionally, the soldiers, kings, and queen will become exposed to the product through the transmission by workers and overtime, will die off as well. If the product was applied correctly and with time and patience, DE powder is extremely effective at destroying a termite colony.

How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth for Termites

DE powder is only as effective as the application process that spreads it to the termite colony. You can think of this product as a miracle product—but the only way to ensure you get the most out of it is through the proper work and process it takes to accurately spread it. Using a dust applicator for insecticides is crucial, as the clumping of this product will simply cause the termites to avoid it or walk around it.

The dust applicator will spread the powder in a fine, dust-like pattern to all the structures that termites are feeding on, as well as all wood or foundation structures that are prone to termites if you are treating as a precaution. If a wooden structure is infested, you can insert the nozzle into an opening of the structure and dust the powder inside to coat the active termites. It can be tricky with termites since they can burrow inside of wood and eat it from the inside out, so it will be essential for you to dust the entire outside of the wood and find a way to create an opening to dust the termites inside of the wood.

The process is a bit easier if you are treating as a precaution—simply coat all wood foundations and any foundation creating a bridge from the earth below into the home. You will want to be meticulous and remember that termites infest wood to extract the cellulose from the wood, so if you are dealing with an active infestation, treat all wood inside of and below the home, including wooden furniture. Finally, be patient; DE takes time to reach what could potentially be hundreds of termites.

How Long Does it Take Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Termites?

The waiting game with DE powder is the hardest part of an otherwise amazing product. The basic mechanics behind DE powder is insects must cross through the product to be killed—and the killing process can also take a bit of time. Termites are elusive and the only thing they are interested in is wood for both food and shelter of the entire colony.

Once you have treated any wooden structure they could possibly infest, it can take weeks for all the workers to cross through and spread the product to the more sedentary soldiers, kings, and the queen (the lifeblood of the entire colony). The workers will eventually spread the product to the colony, but they first must cross through the nearly invisible layer of product and spread it. DE powder will work if it is applied correctly and the time it takes to kill the colony is worth the wait.

You may be interested in: The Best Termite Killer Sprays

What Does Diatomaceous Earth do to Termites?

DE powder is made of small decayed organisms and matter known as diatoms, which have dried out and become razor sharp to the sensitive, outer shell membranes of small insects. The particles are also extremely dry, which after the insect’s shell is sliced by the particles—works to actively dehydrate the insect in 24-48 hours. Termites are no exception to the many types of insect’s that this product can kill and over time, the insects have no choice but to cross through it and even spread the particles to the rest of a colony.

Related Termite & Diatomaceous Earth Questions:

How to Kill Termites in Your House with Diatomaceous Earth

As previously mentioned, you will want to treat all wood types inside of your home with the product. This can even include wooden furniture, which will be in the termite’s sensory perception. Dust all wood and simply wait for the product to kill the entire colony. Avoid sweeping or mopping the product and allow the decade-long residual to work its magic.

What are the Alternatives for Killing Termites?

There are many DIY products available to kill termites—but a strong residual is crucial to achieving success. Pest control professionals will use a multiple approach strategy of the most up-to-date products on the market such as termite foggers —but you can treat them yourself if you have the patience. Taurus SC is a powerful, liquid residual that works well against termites and can also work well in combination with DE powder once the liquid has dried.

In Summary

Diatomaceous Earth is one of the most effective and generally safe insecticides for ridding your home of infesting insects—including termites. The product works by shredding the outer shell of the termites and dehydrating them in a matter of days. The worker termites will also spread the product to the soldiers, kings, and the queen over time.

With all residual insecticides, the application process is key in effectively ridding the infestation. Never clump this product and always use a dust applicator to create a fine, nearly invisible layer of product over all structures infested or prone to infestation. Diatomaceous Earth will work if you have the patience to wait for the product to spread to the entire colony—which is worth the wait.

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Mike Henderson
Mike Henderson

Mike is a pest control operator from New York with over 15 years experience dealing with a wide range of pests. He shares his knowledge on this blog and provides useful information to help you combat pests on your own.

For severe infestations and professional advice you can also request a free pest control quote here.

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