Does diatomaceous earth work on ants?

You step into your kitchen and see a trail of ants marching to the sugar jar. Gross! You don’t want these little creeps in your home, so you rush to Google for effective ant-killing solutions. Suddenly, you come across an odd term – Diatomaceous Earth. Huh? What is that supposed to be? Can it help with the situation at hand? Fear not my friend, for I have compiled all the information regarding diatomaceous earth’s effectiveness against ants and other pests.


Ants are persistent critters that can take up valuable real estate in many households around the world. They march with such enthusiasm, but their presence is anything but welcome when they start crawling over our homes and even more frustratingly our food supplies too! So what can we do about these tiny invaders? Many people opt for chemically-laced poisons which may prove effective but could also damage flooring or be harmful to pets as well as children if ingested by accident.

Whilst browsing through various pest-control products one question pops up frequently: “Does Diatomaceous Earth work on ants?” How efficacious this peculiar earth material is at deterring pests like ants is a matter of much debate online. With that being said let’s assess whether this wonderous powder effectively combats household pests like those pesky pantry raiding ant colonies.

First Things First: What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

Before delving into its utility over insects like ants…what is Diatomaceous Earth(D.E)? D.E (casually dubbed “Fossil Shell Flour”), relates directly back to dead aquatic algae containing minerals such as silica dioxide filling ancient watersheds with fossil remains found in present-day sedimentary rock formations worldwide. This sedimentary material holds 85-90% amorphous silica allows it’s efficacy as both an arthropod pesticide and desiccant (a compound used for drying).

D.E comprises of small particles with jagged-edged structure which allows them to scratch the exoskeletons of pesky bugs. The powder thereby injures the pest’s waxy protective layer forcing it to dehydrate and subsequently perish.

Impressive right? But are these wondrous features enough for us homeowners dependent on environmentally-friendly bug killers?

Does D.E Work Against Ants?

Now, following a long-winded explanation let us hop onto the real question – does diatomaceous earth actually work against ants?

The answer seems pretty clear cut: Yes. It does. Quite effectively too as the substance cuts through their protective coating[]. However before we get carried away here is one thing you need to know about ants- they’re persistent little suckers who tend not to be so easily outsmarted by run-of-the-mill insecticides.

Let’s dive into what makes ants difficult targets:

Ant Societies

Ants have evolved organized colonies that operate in synchrony towards common goals comprising worker drones collecting food resources until there are enough supplies to feed offspring within a mutually constructed nest aimed at survival of their own kind rather than our human preference!

These complex hierarchies can prove insurmountable even for some household pesticides available today nothing less said regarding natural alternatives like Diatomaceous Earth.

Multiple Queens

A single colony may contain multiple queens (“polygynous”) key factor differentiating them from bees or wasps whose hierarchy typically rely upon just one breeding female known as queen bee/wasp Thereby making ant control harder still — no ONE queen must die!


Eradicating pests which spread across space whether outdoor or indoor requires vigilance along with applied techniques…including but not limited just D.E
Carpenter ants for example, pose an additional puzzle because their nests could sit hidden deep inside wood foundations rendering them inaccessible to pesticides altogether

Long-Term Approach Required

Diatomaceous earth works effectively against virtually all the ant varieties you may encounter such as odorous house ants, and pharaoh among others. Nonetheless patience is paramount in arriving at a successful eradication thus a relentless approach is essential.

In summary: Yes Diatomaceous Earth DOES work on ants BUT… success depends upon maintaining one’s resolve amidst other factors like type of species and extent of infestation present.

How To Use Diatomaceous Earth Against Ants?

Next up – how does someone use this powder against ant colonies? Thankfully it’s pretty simple…


  1. Locate the source ‘if possible’
  2. Sprinkle D.E generously around entry/exit points or along trails creating by scouting worker tribe
  3. Avoid wet/damp areas since it renders diatomaceous earth useless due to clumping when damp
  4. Repeat steps 2 through 3 until no more creepy crawlies are seen

Advantages of Using Diatomaceous Earth Over Other Insecticides

Surely there must be something about using diatomaceaous earth over more popular insecticides which makes its usage worth investigating further right? Here are some reasons why people prefer using D.E:

  • Eco-Friendly: Being composed primarily out silica mineral, DE poses little environmental hazard sparing non-targeted organisms including pets.
  • Non-Toxic : Indeed unlike your regular roach killer fumehousehold insecticide with toxicity ratings that rank way lower than chemical-based counterparts.(although ingestion should still be avoided).
  • Multipurpose Properties: Aside from killing insects, DE can also serve internally acting as an internal human health boon assisting in digestion,charcoal toothpaste formulations(cleansing teeth) and improving skin complexion when ingested
    = Universal Pest Killer: Besides ants, diatomaceous earth powder can prove effective against a host of other pests including: mites, fleas, ticks bedbugs and cockroaches


To put things in perspective- Diatomaceous Earth may seem like the wonder-product you have always been yearning for. It’s safe around pets and humans alike (just don’t go swallowing spoonfuls down your gullet). However patience is key whilst using this naturally occurring sedimentary material when attempting to get through ant invasions.
Although it cannot prevent potential future infestations by itself but no pesticide product can guarantee that. While thorough cleaning maybe heaven sent from any pet animal hair to leftover crumbs lying under counters might be great practice going forward but also give DE as natural insecticides offering invaluable effectiveness a fair shot too.

Further Reading:

1) [EPA]: Poison-Free Ant Control – How To Use Diatomaceous Earth
2)’s Guide on Fighting Ants Naturally