Our lot is very sandy and has many ant colonies. We have skinks living near the house that eat the ants. I would like to:
A) keep ants out of the house
B) not harm the skinks

My plan is to dust the perimiter of the house with diatomaceous earth.

Will the diatomaceous earth harm the skinks in any way?

My concern is if the skinks either eat an ant with D.E. on it or otherwise ingest or inhale the powder.

  • I know they make food-grade diatomaceous earth. Not sure if that includes skinks. It works on exoskeleton animals by loosening the joints allowing them to dehydrate. Skinks, lacking an exoskeleton should not be affected. I could be completely wrong, however.
    – Tim Nevins
    Jan 22, 2019 at 17:08
  • 1
    According to some websites diatomaceous earth is used by reptile keepers to control insect pests, but not used in places where the reptiles come in contact with it. It is claimed to be "mostly harmless" except that it can cause skin irritation - after all, it's basically spiky shaped particles of sand (silicon dioxide)!
    – alephzero
    Jan 22, 2019 at 20:13
  • What kind of diatomaceous earth are you using? And what brand? The food grade Perma-Guard kind is safe for humans, mammals, birds, and such. It's not supposed to kill reptiles, but it might irritate their skin. I think some reptiles may have more sensitive skin. I know I'm not a skink, but I've personally eaten food grade Perma-Guard diatomaceous earth for years and lived to tell the tale. I've only ever heard of DE killing insects, and anecdotal stories of it killing parasites. Some say it can kill some microbes, too (or at least make them less dangerous by absorbing their toxins). Jan 24, 2019 at 5:32
  • Other kinds might contain harmful substances. The crystalline kinds can cause cancer and other equally bad problems. The food grade is amorphous, but I don't trust all food grade brands. Jan 24, 2019 at 5:34
  • In theory the DE is only harmful to insects, and not to vertebrates. However in practice (my own experience) DE is not so toxic to insects either, as they may advertise with. I have tried to use DE to get rid of ants, but never seen any result that it really works. So my advice, based on my own experience, is not to use DE for ants, it does not work.
    – benn
    Jan 24, 2019 at 10:05


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