Diatomaceous Earth Kills Bed Bugs
Diatomaceous earth does kill bed bugs, but it takes patience. I have seen people do their own experiment, leaving bed bugs in a dish with DE and waiting to see if they die. When they are still alive after 24 hours, or a day or two, people assume it doesn't work. But, those experiments are not paying attention to how diatomaceous earth works. It takes patience to see results in action.
Using DE alone may not be enough, but it can be a useful part of the whole.
Guess What the Dark Spots Are!
My investigation started with three dozen bed bugs that I trapped. Each one was kept in a special enclosure (even if one got out it could have been a disaster!).
Some were trapped in pill bottles, such as in the picture above, and others in an ant colony, which did not work as well as it does on ants! Inside of enclosure was a thick layer of Diatomaceous Earth (pool-grade in some, food-grade in others).
They were placed in each enclosure for observation. After checking them twice a day for a couple days I observed something odd: The bed bugs did not die right away, or even a few days later. It took 7-14 days to kill them.
I can see why people think it does not work. It is hard to be patient, but when it comes to killing bed bugs, it is worth it the extra time.
The conclusion of my experiment is that diatomaceous earth works great, but with large, embeded infestations it should be one part of a bigger plan.
Are You Using the Wrong Kind of DE for Bedbugs?
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How Does Diatomaceous Earth Works
Diatomaceous Earth is made from a material called silica. It is made up of small particles that seem smooth to us, but to a bedbug they are razor sharp.
As they walk across the DE, it cuts their abdomens. This causes them to become dehydrated and eventually die. It is very slow-acting. While most bedbugs will die in a week, some of them may live for over two weeks.
Diatomaceous Earth, Bedbugs, and Human Safety
How safe is DE in the fight against bedbugs? To answer this question, four families with bedbugs volunteered to try both food-grade and pool-grade DE.
Each family was given one or the other type for the experiment. Before the family members began the experiment, they were briefed on safety issues. For the most part, food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is safe to use around pets and children. However, this does not mean it is 100% safe.
Pool-grade DE is not safe to use in bed bug removal. It triggered one person's asthma in our experiment. As mentioned above, DE is made from silica. It may seem harmless to the touch but it is not harmless to the mucosal lining of our respiratory tracts. When an asthmatic inhales DE, it can damage their nose, sinus, throat, bronchi, and bronchioles.
Through my experiment with each family, I breathed in both food-grade and pool-grade DE. Even I felt the irritation of the pool-grade DE. On the other hand, no one became ill after using food-grade DE.
Warning For The Following: Asthma, COPD, and Other Lung Ailments
DE is useful as a part of a total bedbug elimination plan, but there are some people who should never use DE: Asthmatics, people with COPD, and those with other lung ailments should not be exposed to DE.
The irritation caused by DE can be very dangerous with people who suffer from lung conditions and severe sinuses. If you want to use it, talk to your doctor about the risks.
Mine was not a scientific study, and would have never met standards of one. Readers can draw their own conclusions.
Applying Diatomaceous Earth Inside Mattress Cover
DE Bedbug Experiment Results
The effectiveness of diatomaceous earth depends on the severity of the infestation. In most cases, it will need to be used in tandem with spraying, sealing, and covering mattresses along with steaming and regular cleanings.
I suggest steaming the mattress before using the dust. Do not soak the mattress, but if it does seem damp, let it dry before applying DE. After you have steamed, place the mattress in a cover. Then use a duster to coat the inside of the mattress cover. As you can see in the picture above, we placed DE inside the mattress cover. Then the bugs are trapped and the DE cannot become airborne. The mattress cover should be checked daily for tears, which can be fixed with duct tape.