Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Review: How to Get Rid of Annoying Crawling Insects Like Ants without Poisons

Ant Attack!

Is there any worse way to start the day that walking into a kitchen that's been invaded by ants? I realize a medical emergency or a house on fire could be worse, but it's still a real downer to go into the kitchen to fix breakfast and find the counter full of ants.

An Easy Way to Get Rid of Annoying Crawling Insects Like Ants without Poisons

That’s what happened to me again this morning. I had them pretty well cleared out and hadn't been bothered for about two weeks, but today they had found another way in I did not have guarded. Fortunately, this time I knew what to do. I was prepared. The ants you see above I was trying to kill with poison -- store-bought and a homemade version of the same thing. That was back in September of last year.

About three months ago, after invasion after invasion, I had purchased two five-pound bags of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth. I had tried making my own ant poison using Borax from recipes I found online. The ants loved it. They loved it so much they told all their buddies about it and I had more ants than ever. I guess there were so many ants in their hills that they didn't all die off when it was brought back. I read that the liquid bait wasn't as effective at killing the whole colony, so I mixed the recipe for dry poison. It might have worked had the ants been attracted to it, but they totally ignored it.

What Did Work

It was in desperation that I tried food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE). I used one of those little cups that had formerly held a small size yogurt to sprinkle the DE where needed. I put it where I saw the ants entering and I made borders around the areas where they were as best I could. I lined the edges of the kitchen sinks with it. Then I went away. Within 24 hours, most ants were gone or dead. I'm not sure what happened to the bodies of most of them. As more ants tried to come, they were stopped at the entrance places. Within a few days they had stopped coming. I hadn't had them for about three weeks when I went to bed last night.

An Easy Way to Get Rid of Annoying Crawling Insects Like Ants without Poisons
How I apply DE,  © B. Radisavljevic

This morning they decided to come up from the bottom instead of where I had them blocked at the windows. The counter was covered with them and the sink was full. I had been too tired to empty the dishwasher last night and the dirty dishes had been left on the counter and in the sink. I moved all dishes into the sink and spread my magic powder on the floor where the ants were coming in and put a border back on the counter and around the sink. I now apply the DE with an art paintbrush – a medium width one. It's large enough to spread my borders and also to brush ants that are outside the borders back inside them. Professional dusters are available, and might do a better job of spreading, but I decided to do the best I could with what I had on hand.

If an ant walks on the DE, it will die. It will puncture their stomachs and they will lose their body fluids. However, the food grade DE is so safe that humans can eat it and it won't hurt them. In fact some people use it to treat constipation instead of using a laxative.

In the reviews on Amazon, people have reported great results using DE on bedbugs and fleas. Since it is non-toxic, it won't hurt pets or children. It will work with any crawling or flying insect. But it has to be dry to work. If it gets wet it is no longer effective, so it doesn't do much good for snails, slugs, or other bugs outdoors where you water. I don't dust any outdoor plants where a bee or butterfly might land, though I might try it on my chard that has no flowers.
I hate using any kind of poison in the kitchen or anywhere else in the house unless there is no other solution. DE won't be carried back to kill off a colony, but the ants in your house won't be returning to their colony to show their pals the way to your kitchen, either. They die quickly and don't go anywhere.

An Easy Way to Get Rid of Annoying Crawling Insects Like Ants without Poisons
Ants Killed by DE, © B. Radisavljevic

The picture above was taken in an invaded bathroom, I had left a measuring cup that had been full of homemade liquid ant bait with a Borax base. It finally dried up. The ants had loved it. A few days ago the ants found a way through my DE barrier and headed right for the cup, even though the bait had dried up long ago. So I sprinkled DE into the cup. You can see the result in the dead ants at the surface. It was the DE that killed them. Had it been the poison they would have taken it home.

There is a downside, but I can live with it. You have to keep the DE on your counters and floors until the infestation is gone. It doesn’t look nice, but it won't hurt you. Only food grade DE, not the stuff used for swimming pools, is harmless to pets and humans. So be sure to get food grade.

I have focused on ants here because I don't have pets, so no fleas. I don't have bedbugs, either, thank goodness. Ants are my biggest problem. But if you have fleas in your house or bedbugs, you might want to try it to get rid of them, too. To get your supply, just click below. I had a tough time finding food grade locally. Why not get yours today so it's on hand the minute an invasion begins. 

Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”



  1. This is a very interesting review! I have never heard of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth before, but I will certainly keep it in mind if we have an ant invasion.

    1. The one disadvantage is that is messy and won't work unless it's dry. But I can live with than better than living with ants everywhere or toxic poisons in my kitchen. At least this keeps them confined until they decide to just leave. They can't get back where they came from to bring their buddies, and most die because they crawl over the DE.

  2. I enjoyed your informative article and I will keep it in mind. I live in the country so I've battled almost every bug living here. I really like your website it looks great.

    1. Thanks, Barbara. This will work on most insects, even beneficial ones, so I don't use it anywhere I expect the beneficial insects like bees, butterflies or ladybugs to land. I haven't tried it on roachs because, fortunately, I don't have any to try it on.

  3. I used to have an ant problem in another house I lived in. Will keep this helpful information in mind in case those pesky ants return.

    1. I hope you will not have any ants to try it on.

  4. I do use DE in my container gardening - keeps the ants out of my pots!! Have not heard about Food Grade DE but will certainly consider that.

    1. I'm a bit cautious using it anywhere there might be earthworms, because it could kill them.

  5. The little buggers are back so this is good timing for me. With pets I'm always concerned about what I can use safely.

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