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Today, August 31, is National Diatomaceous Earth Day. So what is diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of a diatom—single-celled algae. Diatoms are estimated to be responsible for up to 50% of the world’s oxygen. Diatoms surround themselves with a shell made primarily of silica. The fossilized remains form diatomite which is then crumbled into a fine powder. That is diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is used for filtration systems in swimming pools, aquariums, even drinking water facilities. It is mildly abrasive and is used in abrasive cleaners. It’s often used in skincare products, toothpaste, some beverages, paints, etc. And it’s a very effective pesticide against insects like ants, roaches, silverfish, etc.
You can sprinkle diatomaceous earth behind appliances in the kitchen for roaches or ants or under pet bedding for fleas. It’s very drying and causes the insect to rapidly dehydrate and die within a day or two.
Some types can be made into a slurry and “painted” on plants or put into a “duster” (like you’d use for Sevin dust) and dusted on plants. It can even be used around mattresses for bed bugs.
It can be sprinkled at the base of plants to prevent insects from crawling up. Sprinkle it under the mulch next to your house’s foundation to help keep down earwigs. Applying it around the foundation is also an excellent way to prevent ants from finding their way inside.
It’s a good product but, as with anything, do read the label directions before using it. Don’t apply it on a windy day as it’s best not to breathe the dust.
Because even an organic product can kill beneficial insects, be sure to use it only on what is needed. I would not apply it at all to blooming plants that attract bees and butterflies.
Still, it is one more very useful tool in your organic tool chest!
If you’ve got insect problems, come in and let us help you select the correct solution!