Diatomaceous Earth, also known as diatomite, is a naturally occurring porous sedimentary rock that crumbles easily into a powder. It is composed of the microscopic fossilized skeletons of single celled algae. Diatomaceous earth is very light and composed mostly of silica.
Diatomaceous Earth has been used to kill insects for centuries and it has been found to be very effective against bedbugs. Diatomaceous earth is easily picked up by the bodies of bedbugs. The DE scratches through their protective wax layers and as a result they rapidly lose water, dry up, and die. Further protection is provided by diatomaceous earth’s property of repelling insects such as bedbugs.
When a bedbug comes into contact with a contact pesticide, the insect dies quickly. When an bedbug comes into contact with diatomaceous earth, it takes several days for it to die. The more important difference is that the effect of the protection provided by the chemical pesticide is short-lived, whereas diatomaceous earth will provide protection as long as the powder remains. In this respect diatomaceous earth is an ideal pesticide. The only health precautions that need to be taken are that if large areas are being treated with diatomaceous earth, the applicator should wear a mask to prevent excessive inhalation. People sometimes mistakenly think that diatomaceous earth causes silicosis. It should be noted that Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is over 97 per cent amorphous silica, which does not cause silicosis. Silicosis is associated with only crystalline silica. Indeed, inhalation of road dust and grain dust is likely to be more harmful than diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth can be used in the household to effectively to prevent the entry of many other forms of 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. It is important to place a small amount of the DE powder in corners, cracks, crevices. and other areas where insects might hide. Another use for diatomaceous earth is in animal production for the control of parasites and flies. This is achieved by dusting the animals and their bedding area. It can also been included in the diet (up to 2%) to control certain internal parasites.
Diatomaceous earth is obtained from geological deposits of diatomite, which are fossilized sedimentary layers of microscopic algae called diatoms. Diatomaceous earth, made up mainly of SiO2, works as an insecticide through physical mechanisms. The fine diatomaceous earth dust absorbs wax from the insect cuticle, causing death due to desiccation.
Diatomaceous earth is a light weight, porous sedimentary rock made up of the prehistoric remains of diatoms which are microscopic, unicellular, aquatic-plants that have a fine shell made of amorphous hydrated silica. There are three types of commercial deposits: marine DE found on the continental margins, freshwater DE from diatoms from lakes or marshes, and sediments from present day water bodies.
Geological deposits of diatomaceous earth can be hundreds of metres thick (Ross, 1981). Many of these sedimentary layers originated 20 to 80 million years ago. After quarrying, crushing and milling, a fine light dust is obtained. The main constituent of these deposits is silica (SiO 2) although there are small amounts of other minerals (aluminum, iron oxide, lime, magnesium, and sodium). Diatomaceous earth is actively mined around the world, with the main producers being Untied States (705 t/yr), Russia (100 t/yr), Denmark (96 t/yr), France (85 t/yr) and Korea (80 t/yr). The world production of diatomaceous earth in 1997 is estimated at 1.4 million t (Anon., 1998).
Diatomaceous earth has many uses: filters in food processing, cosmetics, insulation, anti-caking agents, fillers and absorbents. There are several advantages to using diatomaceous earth to control insect pests. The low mammalian toxicity of DE makes it simpler for applicators to apply. Phosphine and methyl bromide are acutely toxic and require specialized training, licencing and protective equipment and storage. Pesticide residues are a concern throughout the pest control industry. In the USA and Canada, diatomaceous earth is registered as a feed additive in organic farming.
For centuries, diatomaceous earth has been used to protect grain storage facilities. When use of synthetic pesticides became commonplace in the 1940s, it was felt that a scientific solution to pest problems had been found. In recent decades, a number of problems related to widespread pesticide use are beginning to be recognized. These include the development of insect pesticide resistance, environmental pollution, contamination of foodstuffs with residues, and exposure to toxic chemicals.
Despite the many benefits of diatomaceous earth use, very little grain in Canada is treated with DE. The primary reason is that regulations prevent the adding of powder to grain destined for exportation to other countries. Until such rules are changed the full potential of DE will not be realized. This can be especially frustrating in the case of grain going to developing countries as food aid. While the grain may be pest-free when it leaves Canada, it is often rapidly invaded by insects. By the time it reaches the Third World destination, up to 20 % per cent of the grain is subsequently lost to pests. If diatomaceous earth had been added prior to export, it would have been protected indefinitely. Fortunately, diatomaceous earth can be added to domestic. It can also be used in grain and food handling and storage areas such as flour mills, empty grain bins, box cars, ship holds, warehouses, food processing plants, etc.
Patents for diatomaceous earth formulations were issued in the United States in the late 1800s it was not until the 1950s that the first commercial formulations of it became widely available, and between 1963 and 1970 a series of studies on DE were conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In several tests done by the department of agriculture, diatomaceous earth gave better protection of grain than malathion, particularly over the long term, without exposing anyone to the dangers of toxic chemicals. Amorphous silicon dioxide (diatomaceous earth) is considered Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), and is a registered food additive in the USA and Canada. Most of the diatomaceous earth registered as insecticides are more than 90% amorphous silicon dioxide. Silicon dioxide has low mammalian toxicity.
As diatomaceous earth is inert, it provides long-lasting protection as long as the location it is applied remains dry. Unlike the fumigants which are used as curative treatments, diatomaceous earth is applied as a preventative treatment. The long lasting protection provided by diatomaceous earth makes it ideal to be used in this capacity.
Diatomaceous earth (sometimes referred to as DE) is finding increased use because of these concerns about insecticides. The main advantages of diatomaceous earth are its low-toxicity to mammals and its stability.
Limitations of Diatomaceous Earth: As desiccation is the mode of action, DE does not control insects in moist settings. Unlike a fumigant, it will not control the egg stage of the insect lifecycle. Application of inert dusts can be undesirable because of the dust generated. To alleviate this, use a dust mask.
A few items to remember when using Diatomaceous Earth:
-remember that you should only use Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth. It is the only type of Diatomaceous Earth that is safe for home use. Do not use the type of Diatomaceous Earth that is used in swimming pool filters.
-Diatomaceous Earth is a drying agent and just as it will dry out insects, it will dry out your skin. It is useful to wear gloves and apply hand lotion after handling Diatomaceous Earth. Also be advised that Diatomaceous Earth will irritate the eyes. Diatomaceous earth is fine and will float in the air for a while before settling. Using a dust mask while the dust particles are still in the air will prevent any irritation caused by breathing it in.
Click on the links below to learn more about Diatomaceous Earth:
Diatomaceous Earth has been used in our food supply for years as an anti-caking and drying agent as well as a non-toxic method of insect pest control. The difference between chemical poisons and Diatomaceous Earth is that while Diatomaceous Earth acts more slowly, it remains active longer and has no negative effects on mammals and the environment.
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Diatomaceous Earth is only harmful to creatures with an exoskeleton. While it won’t hurt an earthworm, it will repel insects such as bedbugs and fleas. It does not use toxic chemicals to kill the insects but rather kills by physical desiccation. It is important to only use Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth for home use. The difference between chemical poisons and Diatomaceous Earth is that while Diatomaceous Earth acts more slowly, it remains active longer and has no negative effects on mammals and the environment. Click on the above link to read more.
Customer letter: “We first discovered we had bedbugs about a week after returned from a vacation. We assume that they hitched a ride with us back from the hotel room. Predictably they had taken up residence in our bedroom. I guess that is why they are called bedbugs. Ugh!
In our bedroom, a bedbug could find an infinite number of hiding spaces within a short distance of their favourite food source – us!
This is how I believe we concurred the bedbug problem…..”
Marian McCord, a North Carolina State University researcher, has found an innovative way of fighting malaria by treating mosquito nets with diatomaceous earth. Click on the above link to read more about the exciting new use for diatomaceous earth.
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Article from the Utah Daily Herald about the and uses for Diatomaceous Earth. “I don’t want to cram it down my friends’ and neighbors’ throats, but I think people would be interested in it if they knew what it was,” said Mona Ashton, who distributes the stuff out of her Mapleton home. “It’s not a fad; it’s a good product,” said Andy Linares, president of New York City-based Bug Off Pest Control Center, which sponsors the yearly New York Pest Expo.
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“My dog had a pretty bad flea problem last spring that we caught pretty late. He was already suffering from sensitive skin, so we were very careful in our treatment of him because we did not want to stress him out more. We conquered the flea problem using a combination of food-grade diatomaceous earth (not the pesticide stuff or the stuff that has boric acid mixed in) and Lavender and Lemon Essential Oils.” Click on the above link to learn more about this pet owner’s story.
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In addition to be an excellent tool for preventing and killing bedbugs, food-grade diatomaceous earth has many uses in and around the home. Food grade diatomaceous earth makes a very effective natural insecticide. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is EPA approved to be mixed with animal feed to control mealworms and other pests. Food grade diatomaceous earth works in a purely physical manner – not chemically – and thus has no chemical toxicity.s earth canada
What are bedbugs? How do you get bedbugs? How can you avoid bringing bedbugs home when you travel? How do you know when you have bedbugs? How can you treat bedbugs using diatomaceous earth?
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If your floor is carpeted, bedbug eggs will be laid where fibers attach to the backing. Vacuum the carpet as much as possible, as often as possible. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth under and over the carpet, rub it in and let it begin working for you immediately. Do the same treatment for hardwood flooring. It will last up to 6 months without pesticide residues. Click on the above link to learn more.