DIATOMACEOUS EARTH: AN EDIBLE PEST BUSTER?
When most people encounter pests in their household, their usual go-to pesticides are those that are commercially produced chemical pesticides. Nobody can blame them; commercial pesticides have great name recall, because their production and marketing are funded by the big companies with unlimited cash flow, or so it seems.
Fortunately, more and more people are up to using organic pesticides. They are now starting to realize that chemical pesticides can really do more harm than good. Recent studies have shown that the number of insects is dwindling. What’s more, the beneficial insects are diminishing in great numbers, and this is due to the lasting effect of chemicals in the soil.
Among the most popular organic pesticides being used by household owners and farmers is something called diatomaceous earth, a bug killer that you can eat! But why are people veering away from commercial pesticides? Let us examine the effects.
Harmful effects of chemical pesticides
A major study says that the land is now several times more toxic than it was a couple of decades ago. Commercial pesticides, especially one that is known as Neonicotinoid pesticides, are primarily to blame.
Neonicotinoid pesticides are pesticides associated with nicotine. Known to be very toxic, especially to insects. Its popularity stems from the fact that it is soluble in water. This quality allows it to be applied to the soil and be absorbed by the plants. Unfortunately, new studies have pointed to its toxicity to some beneficial insects, and researchers have recommended its phasing out from the shelves.
Pesticides, as their name suggests, are meant to destroy pests. However, there are instances when they become harmful even to humans’ health. Pesticides can definitely cause lethal effects on humans just by skin contact, ingestion, or inhalation. Harmful effects include skin irritation, eye irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, extreme weakness, respiratory tract infection, and even death.
When we use pesticides, we also release it to toxins into the air, which may also reach our water sources, and sediments that could possibly get into our food sources. It also reduces the quality of the soil, which in turn produces mediocre quality plants.
Diatomaceous earth to the rescue
Diatomaceous earth is made from fossilized remains of diatoms. It can be described as off white talc-like powder. Diatoms are tiny, aquatic organisms and are a major group of algae that are found in oceans, waterways, and soil all throughout the world. They have skeletons, and their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. It accumulates in the sediments of rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans over a long period of time. These deposits are mined from these places.
What are products that contain diatomaceous earth?
Products that contain diatomaceous earth are recommended for exterminating pests like bed bugs, cockroaches, fleas, poisonous spiders, ticks, and many others. As of now, there are around 150 registered products that are for use inside or outside households, buildings, farms, and gardens. Some products can even be used directly on your pets for the treatment of fleas and ticks.
Diatomaceous earth is so useful that it can also be found in products that are not considered pesticides. It can be found in food and beverages, toothpaste, skincare products, paints, water filters, medicines, and rubber. You can also spot the description “Food Grade” on products with diatomaceous earth, which means they are purified. The United States Food and Drug Administration lists diatomaceous earth as “Generally Recognized as Safe”. One reminder though is to always read the label for instructions.
As dietary supplement
Recently, diatomaceous earth has emerged in the market as a dietary supplement. It has been marketed as having many health benefits. It is said to cleanse the digestive tract, support healthy digestion, provide the body with trace materials, improve bone growth, and promote hair growth.
Can diatomaceous earth kill bed bugs?
Bed bugs are among the most common pests found in American homes. These pests are considered as high health risks by government agencies in the United States, such as the Center for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Bed bugs are small parasitic insects that suck on human and animal blood for food. They are reddish-brown in color, with flat bodies, their size is from 1 mm to 7 mm in length. They are oval in shape and are the size of an apple seed. However, their tiny bodies swell and turn red after feeding. They are nocturnal creatures so they bite when you are asleep. These pests are known to cause insomnia, stress, and even depression in some cases. Almost all pest control professionals have been called in to exterminate bed bugs in American homes.
Pest control professionals report that bed bugs are commonly found in family homes, apartments, condominiums, hotels, motels, and nursing homes. However, bed bugs are hitchhikers too, they travel a lot and can be sometimes h=found in schools, daycare centers, office buildings, and public transportation.
At home, they can be found in mattresses, pillows, pillowcases, headboards, bed frames, and couches. If the infestation is heavy enough, they can also be found in electrical sockets, desk drawers, and wherever there are cracks and crevices.
The Department of Entomology, Plant Pathology, and Weed Science conducted a study on how effective diatomaceous earth is in dealing with pests, specifically bed bugs. According to this study, bed bugs are highly effective against bed bugs. These pests tend to stay away from areas treated with diatomaceous earth as compared to other chemical pesticides. A different study also showed that diatomaceous earth destroyed 100 percent of bed bugs after being exposed to it for 10 days.
So far, everything we have learned about diatomaceous earth as natural bed bug killers seem is very positive. How do we eliminate bed bugs using diatomaceous earth, then? Here are the steps on how to use it:
- First, you should know the symptoms to prove that your house indeed has bed bugs. Finding red to dark spots on your mattress is one sign. Those spots could be bed bug feces. Bed bugs also leave a musty scent. You may also find blood on your mattress because you might have crushed some of them to death while you sleep. Lastly, if you find bed bug bite marks on your skin.
- If you have these signs, then you have bed bugs. Search for areas where they are prevalent in your house. First to look is on your bed. They could be on the pillows, bed frames, mattresses, and headboards. Inspect your couch and other furniture. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on these areas. Make sure diatomaceous earth is kept dry, otherwise it would lose its effectiveness.
- For smaller areas like the nook and crannies of your house, you may use an applicator. The applicator has a nozzle which you can simply point to a small area then spray. Use this in drawers, in moldings, cracks, and crevices, along window sills, and at the ack of appliances.
- Place a thin layer of diatomaceous earth on furniture and mattresses, using your hands to work into them.
- Remove electrical faceplates and apply diatomaceous earth behind electrical outlets and switches. Use an applicator for this.
- Maintain diatomaceous earth on these areas for as long a period of time as possible. Though it can kill bed bugs and other pests in just a few hours, it is irrational to expect that all pests would be destroyed in just 1 day. It may not look aesthetically pleasing, but it is a sacrifice you will have to make to ensure that you have gotten rid of as many pests as possible.
Can diatomaceous earth kill other pests as well?
And as we mentioned earlier, it kills other pests like cockroaches, fleas, ticks, and spiders also. How does this happen? Diatomaceous earth is tiny particles that are very sharp. These sharp particles cause cuts on the insects’ bodies, which then dehydrates them and kills them. This is non-toxic; there is no build-up of tolerance unlike with other chemical pesticides. It is just like killing them by sticking a knife into them.
If you have pest infestation problems that have become too much to handle for you, do not worry. The best pest control management in the NC, Go-Forth Pest Control, is just a phone call away.
Go-Forth is simply the best
Go-Forth Pest Control is a family-owned commercial service solutions provider of modern pest control services and techniques, using the latest and most advanced technology in the business, making our service to you more efficient, safer and more convenient. We have a team of expert professionals who can provide the best pest control services to residents and business establishments all throughout North and South Carolina.
Go-Forth Pest Control has earned the trust of residents and businesses in North Carolina for more than 50 years. For more information, or to set an appointment, just dial 336-841-6111. Our friendly operators are standing by.