Diatomaceous Earth is a Superb Organic Insect Control for Darn Near Every Problem
Diatomaceous earth is one of the most effective of organic insect
How's that for a great opening line?
So what is this stuff?
It is a geological deposit made up of the
fossilized skeletons of marine and freshwater organisms (diatoms and
algae). These skeletons are composed of hydrated amorphous silica and
when crushed, they break up into microscopic bits. The interesting
property is that these microscopic bits are razor sharp like so many
bits of jagged glass.
But to humans and animals they
feel like talcum powder
Right – how
does it work?
Insects pick up the
on the small hairs of their body. The jagged edges scratch at their
bodies and pierce the protective waxy layers. They also eat some of it.
The insects lose moisture and stop eating. They die. The powder also
repels the "smarter" insects and they
won't go near it.
Is it effective?
The USDA did some studies on it between
1963-1970 and found it was more effective than malathion in protecting
How fast does it work?
It can take several days to kill a pest
that has been exposed to this product. It is not a fast contact kill
such as insecticidal soap.
Having said that, while soaps and other fast contact kill sprays have
no residual action (you have to hit the insect to kill it) diatomaceous
earth is a perfect long-term residual organic insecticide. As long it
is in the area, it is effective and continues working and it is
perfectly safe for skin contact to humans and pets.
safe for humans and pets?
contact is no problem
at all. It feels like talcum powder. The only caution is that you
want to breathe the dust while applying it to the garden or house area.
Wearing of dust masks while applying diatomaceous earth is a
recommended safe gardening practice.
You might read reports that
diatomaceous earth causes silicosis. Pesticide quality material is
usually over 97 per cent amorphous
Silicosis is caused by crystalline
silica and the diatomaceous earth or amorphous silica hasn't been
associated with silicosis. So while I recommend you wear a dust
mask, I'd recommend you
same protection while in any dusty environment – from
cleaning out the
attic to spreading peat moss.
What insects does it
Darn near any insect will be
killed by this product including the beneficials. This is why we
spread it everywhere but are selective in how we apply it.
will control all soft-bodied garden insects.
will control earwigs quite nicely.
garden reports of it controlling slugs organically.
houses diatomaceous earth is used to stop the entry of certain
insects such as earwigs, ants, and cockroaches, and to control these
and others (such as fleas) in food cupboards, carpets, basements,
attics, pet bedding etc. You can put the powder in cracks and corners
for better control.
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It can be used to treat the
roots of new transplants and the barks of
trees to stop chewing insects (it will not stop mice or rabbits but if
these animals get it on their fur, they will not get fleas) :-)
External parasites on pets can be controlled by dusting the animal and
the bedding area.
Internal parasites of large animals such as horses are also controlled
by adding 2% of diatomaceous earth to the grain ration. There are
unconfirmed reports that fly populations are reduced when diatomaceous
earth is part of the feed formula.
find that some newer formulations add insect lures to the
product to further increase the effectiveness of the product. I have
not used these and can't comment on them.
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