Nature’s Insecticide: Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth isn’t just for chickens! Made of fossilized diatoms, a type of microscopic algae that has collected for thousands of years in now-dry lake beds, these deposits are mined and ground into a fine, off-white powder known as Diatomaceous earth, often called DE for short. DE contains an assortment of trace minerals, but it’s main component is silicon dioxide, or silica. Its absorbent and mildly abrasive nature makes it capable of binding to heavy metals and toxins when ingested.

Diatomaceous earth has several beneficial qualities for poultry as well as pigeons and caged birds. DE is an effective chemical-free preventative and treatment of insects including; lice, mites, ticks, fleas, spiders, bedbugs, and ants.



The fine powder of diatomaceous earth adheres to the exoskeleton of insects, then the sharp edges of the fossilized diatoms cut through the outer surface and into the insect’s softer tissues. DE is extremely absorbent and will dehydrate the insect; this process can take a few hours to several days. DE also works on developing insect eggs and larvae.

Because DE works to kill insects physically via dehydration, we do not need to worry about chemical resistance, egg/meat withdrawal times, or any negative impacts due to chemical inhalation/contact etc. In other words, using DE is natural as it gets!



While holding the bird, lightly sprinkle DE through the birds feathers. During the application of DE, the dust may become airborne. Food grade DE is not a toxin, but as with any kind of dust, even road dust, baby powder or corn-starch, inhaling it can irritate the lungs and it can get into the eyes. Use adequate ventilation and avoid breathing the DE dust. If concerned about inhalation, cover the birds head with a towel while applying DE to the feathers



Diatomaceous earth can be added directly to the feed to protect the seed from spoilage due to weevils and other grain eating insects. Additionally, its ability to absorb moisture makes it a great preservative for stored grain. No harm is caused when ingested and it may have a positive effect internally to detoxify as well as deworm the bird.

Add 2% to total weight of grain. For example, for 50lbs of feed, add up to 1lb of Diatomaceous earth. DE powder is fine and light and will naturally stick to grain without the need to coat with oils. Give the DE coated feed to your birds as often as desired



Diatomaceous Earth can be added to the loft litter, perches, in nest boxes, around nest bowls, and in crevices and cracks where insects may hide.

DE should be applied to dry areas (for the best results), so make sure birds and loft/cage are dry.

As you add in new litter, shavings, straw etc, add in Diatomaceous earth, sprinkle about ½ cup per every 2 sq ft.

For poultry add a light layer of DE to their dust bathing area and as the chickens bathe, they will self-apply it throughout their feathers.

Regular application every 6 to 8 weeks is recommended to avoid re-infestation. For extra pest prevention, mix in Flowers of Sulphur before applying DE.