20 Aug 2013

Diatomaceous Earth

Amorphous Silica

*  Probably the most effective naturally occurring organic insecticide powder is diatomaceous earth. This is a geological deposit made up of the fossilized skeletons of microscopic one-celled plants (phytoplankton) particularly diatoms and other algae that lived in the oceans and lakes. These deposits are mined from underwater beds or from ancient dried lake bottoms.
*  Natural DE makes a very effective organic insecticide. The insecticidal quality of DE is due to the razor sharp edges of the diatom remains. When DE comes in contact with the insects, the sharp edges lacerate the bugs waxy exoskeleton and then the powdery DE absorbs the body fluids causing parasite's death from dehydration.
*  Further protection is provided by the powder's property of repelling many insects. A similar principle probably accounts for the fact that birds frequently take dust baths, presumably to rid themselves of parasites.
*  DE works in a purely physical/mechanical manner, not ‘chemical’ and thus has no chemical toxicity. Best yet, parasites don’t build up a tolerance/immunity to its chemical reaction, so rotation is unnecessary.   
Diatomaceous Earth
*  In houses it can be used effectively to prevent the entry of certain insects such as earwigs, ants, and cockroaches, and to control these and others that are present in cupboards containing food, carpets, basements, attics, window ledges, pet areas (for fleas), etc. In all of these examples it is important to place a small amount of the powder in corners, cracks, crevices, and other areas where insects might hide. Whereas with a contact pesticide the insect dies quite quickly, with DE control may take several days. The more important difference is that the effect of the protection provided by the chemical is short-lived, whereas DE will control the pests as long as the powder remains. In this respect DE is an ideal pesticide; it is residual but nontoxic. The only health precautions that need to be taken are that if large areas are being treated with a power duster, the applicator should wear a mask to prevent inhalation.  
*  Lightly sprinkle in household carpet. Leave for 2-3+ days, then vacuum. Please do not get heavy handed with the DE in your carpet, as it may cause problems with your vacuum cleaner.

* Lightly rub into pets coat, fur, and bedding to dehydrate fleas, lice, mites, and ticks. Dust them lightly, but thoroughly, as in order to kill the parasites, they must come in contact with the DE.
Note: external application can take up to 72 hours to dehydrate external parasites.
*  Use DE throughout the barn, fowl coops, and pastures. When mucking the barn and coops, lightly, but thoroughly sprinkle DE absolutely everywhere! It keeps the barn “cleansed” and dry. In between barn mucking, sprinkle DE on wet spots to help dry them out and keep flies from laying eggs. DE applied to manure piles keeps fly loads down/eliminated.
*  DE is excellent in the chicken coops – on the ground, in nesting/dusting boxes to prevent lice and mites. Sprinkle directly on fowl feathers to eliminate mites and lice. One thorough dusting of a bird is enough to eliminate mites and lice. Just make sure to dust the nesting boxes and the ground as well for added assurance that the mites won't spread to the rest of the flock.
*  Dairy cow owners put DE in burlap bags, so cows can rub against it and sprinkle themselves with DE, which helps to eliminate flies that land on them, as well as lice and mites. Apply to moist kennel areas to reduce odors, dry the area, and prevent pest breeding.
*  Deodorizing and absorption are natural functions of DE, so add to kitty litter to absorb odors and keep the litter box drier.
* A small amount applied to livestock water keeps algae from growing on hot summer days.

* DE’s minerals are great for the garden.
* Apply to ant hills. Small ants may require a few applications to completely eliminate them, as they burrow new hills elsewhere, when we plug their initial hill with DE, but if we keep at it, eventually they disappear. Big ants are eliminated within two applications of a reasonable amount of DE applied to their ant hill. Ants in trash cans can be controlled by either painting DE around the bottom of the trash can or sprinkling it dry around it. They’ll go elsewhere, as they do not like walking over DE, so you’ll need to find their home to completely eliminate them, but it will keep them away from areas you put DE. Sprinkled around the house foundation keeps new crawling insects from coming inside.            
* Mix DE with water to paint fruit tree trunks with it, like a white wash. It keeps ants OFF fruit trees.
1 cup applied to 2½ L of water works well. Good as a white wash for wood fencing too.
1 to 2 cups per 5L of water can be used to apply DE in a backpack or hose end sprayer for problem  infestations of mites, aphids, fungus problems, etc.
Note: DE will turn whatever you paint or spray with it white.
* Great for compost piles, to prevent breeding pests and control odors.

* Ants, fire ants, caterpillars, cut worms, army worms, fleas, ticks, cockroaches, snails, spiders, termites, scorpions, silver fish, lice, mites, flies, centipedes, earwigs, slugs, aphids, Japanese beetles (grub stage), fruit flies, corn earworm, cucumber beetles, corn borer, sting bugs, squash vine borers, thrips, loopers, etc., etc.

* Natural grade DE contains 15 trace minerals: calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, copper, zinc iron, phosphorous, selenium, etc. People note shinier coats, better overall health, better production, etc. in their animals who are fed DE regularly.   It has also been included in the diet (one per cent in the grain ration) to control certain internal parasites and this practice is said to result in lower fly populations in the resulting manure.

* Used regularly, DE can pretty much eliminate your fly population. Sprinkle on livestock when flies are present. Dust barns, coops, after mucking and throw on top of manure/compost piles. You need no longer use or need fly bags, fly predators/parasites, fly tapes, or sprays.
* DE can be put in a backpack sprayer mixed with water to spray your barn or coop buildings. Reapply DE when rain or water washes or wind blows it away.

* Organic grade DE has been reported in literature to absorb methyl mercury, e-coli, endotoxins, viruses (including poliovirus), organophosphate pesticide residues, drug resides, and protein, perhaps even the proteinaceous toxins produced by some intestinal infections. DE detoxes.
* There are some features about DE that correspond with its ability as both a digestive aid and a colon cleanser. The honeycomb skeletal form of DE is found, under microscopic evaluation to reveal a tendency to become filled and clogged with hard debris such as intestinal scale. It has not been found to cause any insult to the mucous or barrier wall.
* DE has a negative charge and bacteria has a positive charge, wherein it is believed by some that DE sweeps bacteria out of the body by trapping it in it’s honeycomb shaped skeletal form.
* There is no withdrawal period when given to milking or feed animals. No toxins. Decreased mortality, increased milk production, decreased mastitis, and better feed conversion.

* If you have asthma or some other lung ailment, we suggest wearing a mask when applying DE.
* Do NOT get DE in the eyes. DE is drying to the eyes, so do NOT put it out when you or your pets are down wind of it. 
* DE is drying to your skin, just as it can be to your pets.
* Do NOT give to very small pregnant animals such as cats, guinea pigs, etc. and do NOT feed continually to babies or small animals such as cats, hamsters, etc. 
* DE can reportedly be fed on a continuous basis to larger animals and livestock for continuous parasite control and mineralization.
* Do NOT use heavily in carpet too much DE causes vacuum problems.
* Pool filter grade diatomaceous earth has been heat and chemically treated and will poison an animal or human who ingests it, so it is always of utmost importance to only obtain organic DE to use in and around your household.
* Remember, DE will kill beneficial insects as well, so use accordingly.

Tips and Suggestions:
Have a look at my posts using DE:
*  Chickens for Fresh Eggs  
For more Fabulous ideas for your pets and garden have a look at these pages:
*  Home and Garden Index
*  The Furry Pets and Friends Index

References, Additional Reading and Shopping:

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Here you will find a collection of books (most of which are on my bookshelf) where I get a lot of information for my posts.  You will also find the items required to make a lot of the products found on my blog.  
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  1. Thank you for sharing this information! I will be putting it to good use! Holly

  2. This is a really helpful post - I had no idea. And I was only using this for my pool. Thanks.

    1. Thank-you for your comment. Please use an organic diatomaceous earth and not the one for your pool, as often chemicals are added to the pool version. All the very best.

  3. If it keeps Earwigs out it's worth a try!! I hate those things in the house. Thank you for sharing, and for linking up to Super Sunday Sync.

  4. Awesome post. I pinned it on several boards!


  5. Wow. This is great information. Thanks so much for linking up your post at The Gathering Spot this week. I will be trying this asap!

  6. Karen- I'm so glad we've run into ea other in blogland! I'll have to come back and read more on your organic posts. Love your artwork as well! Finding a natural solution for ants has been on my list for a few weeks as little mounds are popping up outside. I'm off to buy some DE .. and so glad I just saw your note NOT to buy the pool variety. Thanks for sharing and am looking forward to getting to know you & your blog better!


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