Diatomaceous Earth vs Boric Acid On Roaches: Which is More Effective?

Diatomaceous Earth works much faster at killing roaches than boric acid.

It can achieve a 100% mortality rate after only one week versus two weeks for boric acid.

In particular, DE will eliminate 60% of roaches within 24 hours, 80% within 48 hours, and a 100% mortality rate at one week.

In contrast, Boric acid has a 30% mortality rate within 24 hours and a mortality rate of 100% after 15 days.

The good thing about killing cockroaches with both DE and boric acid is that they effectively spread the poison to the rest of the population.

When one roach gets in contact with either substance, they don’t die right away.

Instead, they go home to their homes with the powder still on their body.

The powder then gets transferred to other cockroaches and kills them as well.

This horizontal transfer allows both boric acid and DE to have a 100% mortality rate on roaches.

That said, DE is more effective when transferred horizontally than boric acid.

Overall, DE is the more effective and deadlier option of the two.

DE vs Boric Acid Comparison Table

Diatomaceous Earth vs. Boric Acid: Pro’s and Con’s

Diatomaceous Earth

Pro’s

 

  • 2x Faster than Boric Acid
    • 100% Mortality in 7 days vs 100% mortality in 14 days for Boric Acid. 
  • Safe on Plants and Gardens 
  • Safe Around Humans and Pets. 
  • Only requires contact to begin working. 
  • Useful on a variety of Insects. 
  • Food Grade option ensures ultimate safety. 
  • FDA approved and used in common household items such as toothpaste. 

Con’s

 

  • Ineffective if the powder is wet 
  • Liquid application is only effective after it dries. 
  • Messy requires cleaning once the treatment is completed. 
  • Requires strategic placement to avoid moisture and target high traffic areas. 

Boric Acid

Pro’s

  • Effective in powder, liquid, and bait form. 
  • More application options allows for easier placement. 
  • Easy to Purchase, found in most grocery and hardware stores. 

Con’s

  • Must be ingested to be effective 
  • Slower acting than DE. 
  • Toxic on plants and trees; avoid use in gardens.
  • More toxic than DE for both human and pets. 

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock.

It consists of fossilized remains from small, aquatic organisms called diatoms.

Diatoms are primarily made of a natural substance called silica.

The silica in Diatomaceous earth is useful to us in many ways.

For instance, we use Diatomaceous earth to treat high cholesterol levels and improve skin, nails, teeth, bones, and hair.

While diatomaceous earth is safe for humans, it kills insects by destroying their exoskeletons.

You can rub them on your pet to fight fleas, ticks, and lice.

More importantly, it is very effective at eliminating cockroaches.

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What is Boric Acid (Borax)?

Boric acid (a.k.a borax) is a naturally-occurring compound found in sea-water, plants, and most fruits.

Borax has been a household item for a little over a century.

It’s an all-natural ingredient used in many household products, such as laundry detergent and multi-purpose cleaning solutions.

But borax can do more than just clean your house.

It is an increasingly popular pest control product.

We use boric to terminate a variety of pests, including spiders, mites, algae, molds, fungi, and weeds. 

And if used correctly, it is one of the most effective ways to terminate cockroaches.

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How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Roaches?

Diatomaceous earth kills insects by destroying their exoskeletons.

This happens in two steps.

First, DE absorbs the oily and waxy outer cuticle layer found on a cockroaches exoskeleton.

Second, once the outer layer is destroyed, cockroaches lose water and die from dehydration.

Although to humans DE is just like any other powder, to insects, it has microscopic, razor-sharp edges.

The good thing about killing cockroaches with DE is that it effectively spreads the poison to the rest of the population.

When one roach gets in contact with DE, they don’t die right away.

Instead, they go home to their with the powder still on their body.

The powder then gets transferred to other cockroaches and kills them as well.

This horizontal transfer allows DE to have a 100% mortality rate on roaches.

Demacreous earth can eliminate 60% of roaches in your home within 24 hours, 80% within 48 hours, and at one week, 100% mortality rate.

Two things determine how effective DE is on insects.

  1. Cockroaches must make contact with DE for it to work.
  2. The DE must be dry for it to remain effective on cockroaches.

Place it in familiar hiding places to make sure roaches will come in contact with it.

You’ll also want to apply a thin layer of DE so the cockroaches will avoid it.

To get DE in small holes and crevices, apply DE with a duster.

A duster will help you get DE into tiny holes, small crevices, and gaps on your walls.

For treating larger areas, I recommend using a slurry.

A slurry is a mixture of DE powder and water.

While DE will not work when wet, it will work again once the solution has dried up.

To make a slurry, mix eight tablespoons of DE with two cups of water in a spray bottle.

Increase the amount of DE to ⅔ cup if your infestation is extensive.

Apply DE about once a week for a full month to achieve the best results.

Reapply DE outdoors if it rains or becomes too humid.

How Does Boric Acid Kill Roaches?

Borax is deadly to roaches when consumed.

While roaches will not eat borax on purpose, they do it by accident.

There are two techniques you can use when applying borax to kill roaches.

The first technique is to spread a thin layer of borax, where roaches live and travel.

Roaches regularly groom themselves so they can smell food, find mates, and sense danger.

They do this by running their antennae through their mouths and eyes.

So while the immediate contact with borax will not kill them, they will eventually consume the boric acid that gets on them.

The great thing about killing cockroaches this way is that it effectively spreads the poison to the rest of the population.

Cockroaches don’t groom themselves until they are in the harborage area, which works well to your advantage.

When using powdered borax, I recommend applying about 2 grams of borax per meter squared.

Studies show that at 2 grams per meter squared, roaches have a 30% mortality rate within 24 hours and a mortality rate of 100% after 15 days.

The second technique is to mix borax with food.

Here are a few recipes you can try:

  1. Egg yolks – Boil four eggs and remove the eggs yolks. Then add ½ cup of boric acid and ½ cup of sugar and mix until you reach playdough like consistency. If necessary, add more sugar to achieve the desired consistency.
  2. Peanut Butter – Mix 1 teaspoon of peanut butter for every two tablespoons of borax.
  3. Cocoa Powder and Flour – Mix 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, one tablespoon boric acid, and 2 tablespoons white flour. Add a few drops of water until consistency reaches a dough-like texture. 

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe For Pets and Humans?

While DE powder is safe to rub on pets, you should prevent them from ingesting it.

Ingesting DE can cause minor irritation to the respiratory tract for pets.

If ingested in large amounts once or gradually, DE can cause more severe problems.

That said, food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for pets and humans to consume.

They can pass through your digestive system unchanged and does not enter the bloodstream.

Also, be careful not to inhale both DE powder and food-grade DE.

Just like any dust, inhaling DE dust can irritate your lungs.

And the silica found in DE makes it especially harmful.

Inhaling crystalline silica can scar your lungs (silicosis) and cause inflammation.

Silicosis is common in miners. It caused approximately 46,000 deaths in the community in 2013 alone.

And while food-grade DE contains less than 2% crystalline silica, long-term inhalation can still damage your lungs.

The silica on DE can also irritate the skin and eyes.

Is Boric Acid Safe For Pets and Humans?

While boric acid has a higher toxicity level than Demacrous Earth, both have relatively low amounts.

Boric acid toxicity ranges from minor to severe.

Some minor side-effects of boric acid on humans are skin and eye irritation.

But, more severe side-effects include headaches, muscle weakness, and respiratory issues.

In extreme cases, boric acid can lead to kidney failure.

Boric acid can also be toxic to pets when ingested in large amounts.

Boric acid can cause minor side effects such as irritation, diarrhea, and vomiting in pets.

It’s best to keep boric acid away from pets and children.

When applying boric acid and DE, remember to use a face mask and gloves for safety.

Also when applying DE be sure to keep it out of common areas or in areas where kids and pets have access to it.

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