The Miracle Of DE aka Diatomaceous Earth And Its One Giant Flaw

What would you say if there was a pest control product that not only killed your pests efficiently but could also be applied directly to your dog or cat for fleas, given to them orally for parasitic worms, sprinkled on surfaces you will come in contact with and eat, could be handled with your bare hands and you could mix a spoonful up in your tea and have a daily dose which improved your health? Certainly this would catch your attention and you’d think this would be all the rage in the industry with its slow but steady turn to ‘green’ pest service. After-all a product with these qualifications seems to fit the bill perfectly with what consumers and watch dog organizations have been clamoring for isn’t it?

Been Around

The product in question isn’t something new, in fact it’s been around quite literally for millions/billions of years but was discovered for use by man in about 1837 in Germany. Diatomaceous earth is a product from Mother nature herself and is the result of almost an infinite number of tiny life forms called Diatoms that lived in the oceans, (still do) died and sank to the bottom where they sat and built up in huge reservoirs for millions of years. The Diatoms are actually a single cell algae that collect hard shells or crystal like armor a lot like barnacles cling to the bottom of a boat. It is these casings which are also microscopic that are the actual magic behind diatomaceous earth for killing pests.

Of note there are two kinds of very common DE products, food grade DE which is straight from the earth and is not treated in any way except to crush it up into the fine silky powder that you can use and pool grade DE. Pool grade is heat treated and has added ingredients and should NOT be used for the above listed uses although in a pinch will give you much the same results as an insecticide.

DE Shreds And Cuts

With its sharp edges DE literally scratches bugs to death but is almost completely harmless to humans and pets. Insects have their skeletons on the outside of their bodies and this exoskeleton is encased with a wax or grease which holds in precious moisture. DE applied as a dust attaches to the bug and begins ripping through this protective salve with each and every movement of the bug. Results are sometimes slow but with enough time the insect simply dehydrates and dies. Pests can also ingest DE and results are much the same although it’s more like a tiny weed whacker running rough shod on their innards. Should they breathe in the fine powder the spiracles or air tubes on the sides of the pest can become clogged and they suffocate or the DE simply scratches up their breathing tubes that carry 02 in and lets c02 out, either way death is ensured.

Shouldn’t It Be In Every Exterminators Tool Box?

On humans DE is reported to help clean the colon, promote strong nails and fuller hair. Pets that suffer from deadly worms need only an oral dose or two and you can avoid costly veterinarian treatments. This versatile resource doesn’t pollute, is non toxic according to those in the know, is applied directly to our grains and virtually the safest natural product known to man. So what’s not to like about this miracle pesticide and why isn’t it more widespread in its use? Shouldn’t it be in every exterminators tool box?

The Fatal Flaw

The one flaw in DE that very few if any intranet sites that sells the stuff will tell you is that it is virtually useless when it gets wet. Even the morning dew renders this almost perfect product harmless to bugs. Therefore when you are using it outside in your garden for slugs or earwigs you may only have that evening of effective action from DE as the mornings layer of moisture will put a wet blanket on your control program. Place the DE in a wall with sweaty pipes and the roaches who can detect minute dangers can simply avoid the wall studs and hang out on the safety ladder known as your pipe. Since such a high percentage of the bugs you want to kill in and around your home seek moist places in which to live the likelihood of having to put your DE barrier in these dampening conditions is quite high. It may be that you’ll have some immediate results from those exposed early on but the residual life of DE will be short lived. Reapplication is often needed to maintain a good barrier but in places of high moisture is very inefficient. For this reason DE has not taken the pest control industry by storm and although many companies will use it in the proper places and get good results there. Using DE as your one and only pest control product will usually leave you all wet.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. Pestcemetery.com was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.
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  • Jeff Ledford

    Great information, and even with the one flaw, it’s the best “green” product out there. I am glad we have it as a tool.

  • Jeff Ledford

    Great information, and even with the one flaw, it’s the best “green” product out there. I am glad we have it as a tool.

  • The Bug Doctor

    It’s not often that a product has so few set backs. I don’t know of anything that perfectly suits every situation. I fear that many people however have no idea about DE or many products limitations and this is where we might get the attitude of ‘more is better’.

    I’ve got it in my tool box too Jeff, use it all the time.
    Thanks for your comment.

  • The Bug Doctor

    It’s not often that a product has so few set backs. I don’t know of anything that perfectly suits every situation. I fear that many people however have no idea about DE or many products limitations and this is where we might get the attitude of ‘more is better’.

    I’ve got it in my tool box too Jeff, use it all the time.
    Thanks for your comment.

  • ProBest uses it as well, we mix 1/2 DE and 1/2 either Drione or Delta Dust, primarily for the bump outs on black walls or pipes inside homes. Cuts the expense as well and most of those places are generally dry.

  • ProBest uses it as well, we mix 1/2 DE and 1/2 either Drione or Delta Dust, primarily for the bump outs on black walls or pipes inside homes. Cuts the expense as well and most of those places are generally dry.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Do you use food grade Keith or pool? I don’t see much difference if pest control is your only use but was wondering if you had any insight.

  • The Bug Doctor

    Do you use food grade Keith or pool? I don’t see much difference if pest control is your only use but was wondering if you had any insight.

  • Anonymous

    I love how Diatomaceous Earth has no synthetic chemicals, no odor or additives of any kind. It is also a completely natural product, that is inexpensive and non-toxic for humans. It doesn’t evaporate, or get old and stale. It is a natural mineral, and a very effective bed bugs killer. – Johann

  • Yes- it is a fine inorganic.