How to Kill Bed Bugs Naturally: Diatomaceous Earth and Silica Gel Kills Bed Bugs
It is very difficult to kill bed bugs. Most people would prefer a magic bullet like DDT to kill the pests in one go, but such treatment does not exist.
The pests have become resistant to a number of household pesticides and this makes it quite difficult to kill them. A range of treatments guarantees success in any bed bug control programme one of which is natural residual dust treatment.
Natural residual dust treatment stays active for days, weeks and months after application. It is only one treatment that helps to kill bed bugs. However, it must be combined with other treatments to eliminate an infestation.
Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Diatomaceous earth, otherwise called diatomite is a desiccant dust made of silica-based skeletons of microorganisms called diatoms. The chemical composition of DE is approximately 90% silica, 4% alumina and 2% iron oxide.
The EPA approved label DE is a natural non-chemical pest control treatment. The tiny diatoms in the powder stick to the outside of the insect’s exoskeleton and scratch it off until it dehydrates and dies.
This is an easy effective and long term residual treatment for bed bugs. It is safe to scatter the powder around the ridges of the mattress, beneath the baseboard and inside the box spring and seams of furniture.
This mechanical treatment kills the insect whenever it crawls on the dust. However, it is not a fast killing treatment like others. It does the job gradually. The treatment works best in low humid environment and is safe to combine it with other insecticide dusts.
a. It is a natural treatment to kill bed bugs.
b. It has no synthetic chemicals or additives.
c. It is odour free and non-toxic.
d. The chemical does not evaporate or breakdown over time.
e. The mineral has strong long term residual effects.
f. It is safe to use it with other treatments.
g. It is excellent for cracks and crevices. It kills newly hatched nymphs.
h. Bed bugs cannot develop resistance to DE.
a. The insect has to crawl through the powder for it to work.
b. The powder kills only a part of the population.
Health and Safety Issues
The mineral is a good alternative to chemical treatments, especially with pets and children around. It is safe to use and can be applied to many surfaces where insecticide dusts cannot (e.g. bed frames and carpet).
Unlike chemical treatments, DE mechanically controls bed bugs by scouring the exoskeleton through an abrasive action. Not all types of DE are non-toxic so be careful whenever you purchase the product.
There are more than one types of DE: the 100% diatomaceous earth is an insecticide labelled for crawling insect pest; the 100% DE used as an animal food additive also kills bed bugs.
DE used for swimming pool filters is toxic to humans and pets and not recommended for bed bug control. DE brands advertised as insecticide contain chemical additives like pyrethrum and piperonyl butoxide.
These products are toxic to humans and pets and have restrictive labels regarding where the product can be used. Read the instructions on the label before you purchase the product.
Silica gel dust
Ever bought a toy, electrical device or gourmet food product and see a little packet inside labelled silica gel, don’t eat, throw away? This is a good treatment for bed bugs.
Silica gel is a desiccant. The term gel is a misnomer because they are actually beads that absorb moisture from the air and are hard and brittle. Ordinary silica gel is clear and it contains silicon dioxide. Some varieties contain aluminum oxide or alumina (a material similar to sandpaper).
Silica gel dust kills bed bugs as soon as they come in contact with it. It is safe to use crushed silica gel or sachets of silica gel purchased in any product. All you need to do is grind the silica gel into powder.
You can mix the powder with an insecticide. However, the powder is effective when used alone. Silica gel is available in the commercial market. It is a very inexpensive and effective treatment to kill bed bugs.
a. It has long term residual effects as long as it is used in environments with low humidity.
b. It is an inorganic, non-toxic treatment with low repellence.
c. It is an effective treatment for cracks and crevices to kill newly hatched nymphs.
Health and Safety Issues
Silica gel can be an irritant so use a mask when applying it. Silica gel is non-toxic and non-hazardous when touched. It is generally recognized as safe, but should not be eaten. It is non-toxic, non-flammable, non-reactive and stable with ordinary usage. Store gels away from pets and children.
Unless carefully applied, these inorganic materials can leave a film on the surface of items.
Natural residual dust is the least toxic treatment to kill bed bugs. However, keep in mind that the pests must crawl in the dust for it to work. Only a sample of the population will crawl in the dust. That’s why it is important to combine this treatment with a range of other treatments.