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Diatomaceous Earth: Natural Grass Care Solution for Fleas

by Marcia Passos Duffy, All About Lawns Columnist

If you share a home with a dog or cat you have probably been visited by unwelcome guests more than once. Fleas are persistent tiny insects that bite animals (and humans) and not only cause itching and irritation but can also carry diseases. They are hard to get rid of when they infest your home.

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Fleas don't just materialize in your home--usually they hitch a ride on your pet, or you or your family members--from outside in the grass.

Get Rid of Fleas in Grass Naturally

Not everyone wants to use harsh insecticides in their yard where children and pets play and hang out. One effective grass care technique for fleas and other lawn pests is "diatomaceous earth," an all-natural , mineral-based chalky pesticide made from small fossilized water plants. This powdery substance, which looks like talcum powder, is comprised of 3 percent magnesium, 33 percent silicon, 19 percent calcium, 5 percent sodium, 2 percent iron, and trace minerals such as copper and titanium. Purchase "food grade" diatomaceous earth through a garden supply company (not a pool supply company, as those formulations are different than the ones used in landscapes).

How Diatomaceous Earth Works to Kill Fleas

The substance has razor-sharp edges--to tiny insects, anyway. These edges slice through a flea's outside covering; they dehydrate and die. It works not only on fleas but also:

  • Sawflies
  • Coddling moths
  • Twig borers
  • Thrips
  • Mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Slugs
  • Aphids
  • Earwigs
  • Silverfish
  • Ants
  • Ticks
  • Flies
  • Carpet beetles

How to Apply to Grass

Caution: Don't breathe in the powder! Diatomaceous earth is not toxic to humans or pets, but can harm your lungs if you breathe it in.

Sprinkle a light layer of diatomaceous earth on your grass (6 ounces for 500 square feet of lawn). Note: The University of Florida cooperative extension says that diatomaceous earth works better in dry rather than humid conditions. Reapply after heavy rains.


About the Author
Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelance writer and a member of the Garden Writers Association. She is a frequent contributor to Turf Magazine and Growing Magazine. Visit her site at

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