What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a type of rock made up of tiny fossils of microscopic sea creatures called diatoms. These organisms are found in many types of rocks, but they’re most common in sedimentary rocks such as sandstone or limestone. Diatoms live in water and feed off organic matter like dead plant material, animal feces, fish scales etc., which they then deposit into their shells. They grow and reproduce very slowly, so it takes them thousands of years to form a single fossil. Because of these slow growth rates, diatoms are considered “long lived.”
The term “diatomaceous” comes from the Greek word meaning “old,” because diatoms have been around for millions of years! Diatomaceous earth is used to kill insects and other pests in gardens. It’s effective against fleas, bedbugs, ants and mosquitoes.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth in Gardens
To use DE in your garden, simply sprinkle some on the soil where you want to kill pests. If you don’t see any signs of pest activity within 24 hours, then there isn’t anything wrong with the soil. You may need to repeat this process several times before seeing results. For example, if you want to get rid of aphids, spray the area twice daily until the problem goes away. You can also dust both sides of the leaves in your garden, which protects against harmful insects and stopping the spread of fungal diseases.
If you’re trying to kill a large area of pests, you may need to reapply the dust every few days.
Purchase Diatomaceous Earth Here!
You can find food-grade diatomaceous earth in garden supply shops or online. Amazon sells several sizes of quality diatomaceous earth from multiple manufacturers. The prices of food-grade diatomaceous earth can range from around $10 for one pound to over $100 for 55 pounds. Whether you choose to spend a little or a lot, you can never have too much DE!
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How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas
Diatomaceous earth is an organic way to kill and repel fleas. It works as a desiccant, which means it literally dries out the fleas. The organisms need to absorb water from their surroundings in order to survive, and DE deprives them of this water. This kills the flea within a few hours time. You can also use this method for your pets, but make sure you don’t get it too close to their eyes or mouth.
To apply DE to your pet, mix it with a little bit of water first. You can do this in a small bowl or cup. Then, use a damp cloth to apply it to the pet’s coat. You only need a small amount since it’s very concentrated. It’s actually recommended that you use a little too much at first so that you can easily wipe off the excess.
Just make sure you avoid your pet’s eyes and mouth! This method is completely safe for animals, but the desiccant could cause eye irritation if you get it too close.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Flea Infestations
If you have a serious flea infestation, then you can simply spread some food-grade DE over the carpet or floor. It’s also recommended that you wet the area first, since it will help the DE to stick to the floor better. You should only need a very thin layer on the floor to be effective. Leave this down for at least 24 hours before removing.
It’s very important that you do not vacuum up the DE after using it. This will cause it to become airborne and possibly inhaled or ingested. Just use a broom to brush the diatomaceous earth into the dust pan and throw it away.
You should also avoid using strong chemical pesticides if you’ve already applied the DE since they don’t get along. Using too much of one or the other can cause health problems for you and your pets. The best way to approach a flea infestation is to use a combination of these two methods.
You can also spray a small amount of warm water mixed with DE onto your pets’ fur to kill the fleas. This is especially useful for pets that cannot easily take anything wet applied to their fur!
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Ants
Diatomaceous earth can also be used as an organic and natural way to keep pests like ants away from your home. Many gardeners use it in this manner since it’s so effective and won’t cause the same chemical reactions that traditional pesticides do.
Sprinkle food-grade DE along the baseboards of your home or wherever you see ants trailing. You can also put some into saucers or small bowls and place them at strategic locations. The ant will naturally investigate the strange substance and take some of it back to their nest. Once there, it will kill the ant and eventually the entire colony.
It’s best to use DE instead of other substances since it’s safe for your pets and family. It also won’t harm any animals that eat the dead ants.
You should reapply the DE every few days since it will become saturated, but only in high-traffic areas where the ants are most likely to traverse.
This method will only kill the ants that come in contact with it. If you have a large infestation, you’ll need to use traditional methods to get the rest.
Diatomaceous earth is one of those things that should always be a staple of your natural medicine cabinet. It’s cheap, effective, and safe to use. It can be used on pets and children (with proper supervision), around food, and in the home without worry of harmful side effects or chemical build-up.
You can get food-grade diatomaceous earth at most health food stores or order it online. It doesn’t have an extremely long shelf life, so if you don’t use it often you might want to check the expiration date before using.
Take care of your family and get the DE. You won’t regret it!
Sources & references used in this article:
Efficacy of neem and diatomaceous earth against cowpea aphids and their deleterious effect on predating Coccinelidae by CH Ulrichs, I Mewis… – Journal of Applied …, 2001 – Wiley Online Library
Exposure to crystalline silica, silicosis, and lung disease other than cancer in diatomaceous earth industry workers: a quantitative risk assessment by R Park, F Rice, L Stayner, R Smith, S Gilbert… – Occupational and …, 2002 – oem.bmj.com
Diatomaceous earth by R Calvert – Journal of Chemical Education, 1930 – ACS Publications
Crystalline silica exposure and lung cancer mortality in diatomaceous earth industry workers: a quantitative risk assessment by FL Rice, R Park, L Stayner, R Smith… – Occupational and …, 2001 – oem.bmj.com
Treatment of diatomaceous earth by JE Fennell – US Patent 2,693,456, 1954 – Google Patents
Liquid/solid extraction on diatomaceous earth for drug analysis in postmortem blood by BK Logan, DT Stafford – Journal of Forensic Science, 1989 – astm.org
Diatomaceous earth for pest control by W Quarles – IPM practitioner, 1992 – biconet.com