Is Using Diatomaceous Earth To Kill Bugs Safe Around Parrots?

Q: I have been looking for a natural way to control fleas in my house and diatomaceous earth has been recommended. Is it safe for parrots?

-Robert K., Baton Rouge, LA 

As much as we dislike it, bugs are a part of life. They infest our homes, animals, sometimes us. There are many methods used to combat an infestation, but most involve chemicals that are deadly to all life depending on the amount used. Our parrots are especially vulnerable to chemicals and as their guardians we have to make absolutely certain that any product we use around them is safe.

When searching for a safe product, you will come across many “green” products that boast that they are “pet safe”. While this may be true of our larger and bulkier mammalian pets, products are almost never tested on birds.

So we turn, instead, to natural pest remedies, such as diatomaceous earth

What Is Diatomaceous Earth? 

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is the product of the fossilized remained of single celled aquatic algaes (phytoplankton) called diatoms which exist pretty much anywhere there is water and light. The cell wall of a diatom is made of silica which is a naturally occurring substances that comprises 26% of the earth’s crust – the substance from which we make glass.

How Does It Work?

Diatoms come in a variety of geometric shapes and sizes and it is the combination of this fact and the composition of their cell walls that make them so effective in fighting bug infestations: their fossils are basically microscopic shards of glass which work their way into the joints of the insect’s exoskeleton and literally slices away at the body as the insect moves.

Won’t It Hurt My Birds And Other Pets?? 

Diatomaceous earth is 100% safe for humans and pets, unless you happen to keep companion bedbugs, fleas or ants. It is safe enough to eat and, in fact, we do eat it. It is commonly and safely used to keep bugs out of grains supplies. Many people also dust their cats and dogs, and carpets and furniture with DE to eliminate a flea problem.

After crawling through DE, an insect will die within a couple of days from its injuries and dehydration. The difference between DE and pesticides is that it is an entirely physically death – no chemicals are involved at all.

It is important, however, to choose FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth. There are varieties that are treated with chemicals for other uses, such as with pool filters. Avoid any product that is not 100% DE, obviously that means there is a percentage of it that is “something else”.

Also preferred is DE harvested from fresh water deposits. The movement of ocean currents can shift foreign materials into the deposits found there.

Where Can I Get It?

Diatomaceous earth is mined and milled into a fine white powder that is available, inexpensively, through places that sell organic products or pest remedies. 

The powder can be sprinkled around problem areas without concern for the welfare of your parrots.

Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.


Kimberly J. M. Spires

How would I use DE around and in my budgie?

Kimberly J. M. Spires
Jackie G

Greetings 🖖 I have a Moluccan Cockatoo. 3 days ago I discovered a big rash in her neck & yesterday another little one. I was told that is Ringworms, I haven’t bring her to the veterinarian yet because I wanted to try DA first. Is it safe to put it on her ? If yes, how do I apply it. Thanks in advance

Jackie G

Safer method to spray DE in yard. I have a cat that loves the backyard; an Amazon bird and two chickens. The birds are new for me. I know there are flees in the backyard. I also have an invasion of ants. I don’t believe in spraying poison for bugs because it’s also poison for humans and pets. Please advise on how to spray yard.


If getting it at a pool store I just wanted to reiterate that you make sure it’s food grade & fresh water diatomaceous earth. You can get a really good type from & it has also a lot of great information on a lot of other benefits as well for animals, humans, & organically growing your own food. It can be used as a non chemical deworms plus all kinds of health benefits for humans & pets. The website can give you all the info. Also i found it on eBay too for great deals & mostly free shipping. I found permanent guard on ebay which sounds like another very good brand that they sell at a farm & parrot/ pet supply store where it cost a little more than getting it on ebay. I also checked amazon but it was quite a bit more expensive, especially the shipping charges. I’ve done a lot of research on it & talked to many people that use it for their pets as well themselves & really love it. I heard also to be careful not to inhale it as long term it can cause problems. I also heard it can be found at home depot but I’m not sure of the brand & if it’s food grade. I also want to say it’s not a way to not take your birds to a vet as they should always get vet care & ask about using the product on them too! I just found out about this product & googled it for more research & was like cool bird tricks mentioned it! I wish I would have researched it when you posted this but I think I figured it was expensive but it’s very affordable!


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