|Common Garden Insects|
Friday, June 10, 2016
Diatomaceous Earth for Chemical Free Organic Pest Control
As a continuation of our series on chemical free organic pest control, today we are going to discuss one of my personal favorites, Diatomaceous Earth.
The reason that I am so fond of DE is the simple fact that, despite it having some limitations, it can be
Diatomaceous Earth is the fossilized skeletons of prehistoric crustaceans called diatoms. Over the millennium these tiny creatures died settled to the bottoms of rivers, streams and seas, leaving deposits from which they are now mined today.
Comprised almost completely of silica and small amounts of calcium, Diatomaceous Earth appears to the naked eye as a white powder and when viewed under a microscope closely resembles a pile of broken glass, which in some ways are exactly what it is and the secret to how I works.
The mechanics of how DE works is elegant in its simplicity. Above, I said, it looks like microscopic glass shards and it does its job exactly as if it were. The tiny silica crystals act as an abrasive scratching through the exoskeleton of insects and the sensitive exscretionary membranes of garden slugs and essentially take away their ability to hold fluids. They dehydrate and die.
In your garden DE is used much as you would powdered pesticides. Sprinkle it on the soil to control emerging slugs and insects and use a duster on the foliage of your plants for insect control. Here, though, is where DE’s weakness begins to show up. When it becomes damp it losses much of its effectiveness and in wet conditions is almost totally useless.
The other word of caution I will add about using Diatomaceous Earth is that just like most pesticides, beneficial insects have no protection from it. That is why I limit my garden use, to ground applications or cover plants with nets to protect valuable pollinators like bees and butterflies from coming in contact with it.
In your home Diatomaceous Earth can be applied in cracks, crevices even around bedding and behind furnishings. Its consistency is much like talcum powder and non-abrasive to people and animals.
This by no means a comprehensive list, mainly because I am yet to find an insect that is not effected when exposed to DE but it will give you some idea how versatile this stuff is.
• Carpet Beetles
• Colorado Potato Beetles
• Darkling Beetles
• Flour Beetles
• Grain Beetles
· Japanese Beetles
• Pill bugs
• Sow bugs
As you can see from this list just about any hard bodied insect is fair pray for Diatomaceous Earth and most soft bodied varieties are.