Supplies for all 8 Steps can be found at our Zapp Store.
Step 4: Use Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth (d.e., for short) is an extremely helpful tool in both eradicating bed bugs and proofing a home against re-infestation.
Diatomaceous earth is a chalky substance that is derived from fossilized sea creatures. It acts as a desiccant, disrupting the waxy shell of bed bugs, making them more prone to eventual death by dehydration. It does not kill the bugs immediately—it can take upwards of 7 to 17 days. Also if you use a thick enough bead of d.e., it acts as a mechanical barrier and bed bugs will avoid crawling through it.
Diatomaceous earth is non-toxic and safe to handle. Sometimes it is even fed to pets for de-worming. However, if you are spreading a lot of d.e. around and getting it airborne, then you will want to wear a dust mask, because getting any fine particulate matter in your lungs is not a good idea.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth
Bed bugs can crawl through electrical conduits and live in wall voids, so you need to “cordon off” these areas with diatomaceous earth.
You will be applying diatomaceous earth where the walls meet the floors and also behind all electrical and light switch face plates. If bed bugs move through these areas then they will have to crawl through the lines of diatomaceous earth that you have applied, and this exposure will eventually kill them.
It’s perhaps easiest to apply diatomaceous earth on a room by room basis. For the room you are going to be working on, we suggest you do the following:
Step 1: Pull Everything Away From the Walls
This is to give you easy access.
Step 2: Put D.E. Behind All Face Plates
You must put diatomaceous earth behind each electrical face plate and light switch face plate. In this video we show you how to do this.
Step 3: Apply D.E. to Area Where Wall Meets Floor
You want to work diatomaceous earth into the crevice between the wall and floor. You also want to work diatomaceous earth into the crevice where the molding meets the wall.
Step 4: Apply D.E. Between Carpeting and Wall
For area rugs, we recommend heat treating them in ZappBug. Obviously this is impossible with wall-to-wall carpeting. For wall-to-wall carpeting, work diatomaceous earth around the edges, where the carpeting meets the wall.
Purchasing Diatomaceous Earth
Any brand of diatomaceous earth will work, but we do like Thomas Labs’ 3 lb Jar of Diatomaceous Earth, because of the handy plastic jar it comes in. You will likely need more than 3 lbs, but a jar this size is easy to move around because it’s not too heavy. And the convenient screw on lid is helpful. Because diatomaceous earth is messy, it’s tidier to have a jar with a lid, rather than rolling up the end of an open bag.
When you buy diatomaceous earth in larger quantities the price per pound drops dramatically. Larger quantities of diatomaceous earth are a real bargain.
Thomas Labs’ 3 lb Jar of Diatomaceous Earth available on Amazon.
50 lb Bag of Diatomaceous Earth available on Amazon.
10 lb Bag of Diatomaceous Earth available on Amazon.
Pesticide Duster (if you want)
For spreading a lot of diatomaceous earth over a wide area (for example, when you are covering a carpet or floor with d.e.), a pesticide duster is useful. It’s not necessary, but it is helpful. We do not have a strong recommendation on which pesticide duster to get.
Andrew (one of our founders) has used the Gilmour Garden Duster. It works, but tends to leak and is somewhat awkward to use. Still, it will get the job done.
Gilmour Garden Duster available on Amazon.
Dust Masks (for Diatomaceous Earth)
Diatomaceous Earth is non-toxic and safe to handle. However, if you are spreading a lot of D.E. around and getting it airborne, then you will want to wear a dust mask, because getting any fine particulate matter in your lungs is not a good idea.
Dust Masks available on Amazon.
Posted by Cameron Wheeler