What is Diatomaceous earth?
Diatomaceous earth (D.E.) is made from the mineral remains of diatom, a single-celled aquatic plant found in the ocean. A diatom extracts silica from the water to form a shell-liked protection. As it dies, its microscopic shell is deposited into the ocean's floor. Through centuries, the diatoms' deposit accumulates up to a thickness of more than a thousand feet. In the process, the deposit fossilizes and compresses into a soft chalk-liked rock called diatomaceous earth. A processed D.E. is a fine talc-liked powder. It is non-toxic, inert material that contains minerals like silicon, magnesium, iron, etc (Dept. of Environmental Protection, Maryland; 2004).
How it kills the pests?
The microscopic shells in D.E. are covered with
sharp needle-liked projections. Upon contact, these will penetrate into the pest's body, destroy its waxy covering, and make the vital fluids to leak out. The actions will cause the pest to die of dehydration.
How to apply?
- Dust on soil to control the crawling pests.
- Dust on foliage to control the chewing and sucking pests but avoid dusting the flowers.
- Apply around the base of each seedling to control root maggots and grubs.
- Be selective. Apply only to problem areas, as D.E. will also kill the beneficials.
- Apply early in the morning, when plants are wet from dews to help keep D.E. adhere to the leaves. Another option is to mix D.E. with soapy water.
- House fleas
- Root maggots/ root flies
- Slugs and snails
- Storage pests
- Vine borers
- Internal parasites of livestock
Wear a dust mask when applying to avoid inhaling the particles. D.E. irritates the mucous membranes in the mouth and nose.
Use a hand duster, powder duster or any suitable means, when applying D.E.
D.E. is non-selective, it also kills the beneficials. Apply only to areas where pests are found.
Reapply after a heavy rain.
Avoid using near electric home appliances, for most desiccants can destroy their motors.
Read the label and follow
Ask for assistance from your local agriculturist office when using D.E. for the first time.
Standard procedures for the preparation and application of homemade extracts
- Use utensils for the extract preparation that are not use for your food preparation and for drinking and cooking water containers. Clean properly all the utensils every time after using them.
- Do not have a direct contact with the crude extract while in the process of the preparation and during the application.
- Make sure that you place the extract out of reach of children and house pets while leaving it overnight.
- Harvest all the mature and ripe fruits before extract application.
- Always test the extract formulation on a few infected plants first before going into large scale spraying. When adding soap as an emulsifier, use a potash-based one.
protective clothing while applying the extract.
- Wash your hands after handling the extract.