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
Common Garden Insects
used both in the garden and in the home for a wide variety of pests. Best of all Diatomaceous Earth is completely natural and nontoxic. It is safe for you, your pets and the environment when used with care.

What is Diatomaceous Earth

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.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Insects and Slugs

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.

How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth

In the Garden

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 the Home

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.

What Insects will Diatomaceous Earth Control

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.

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