Diatomaceous Earth (Diatom Powder) has been used in Asia to control insects for over 400 years.
Images: Diatom Powder and a microscopic photo showing several species of diatoms.
Diatomaceous Earth is safe to use indoors (around kitchen cupboards and pantries) as well as outdoors, along foundations and in the yard and garden. It is a non-toxic, safe substance made up from crushed fossils of freshwater organisms and marine life called Diatoms (a type of algae). It is 100% natural and mined from the ground.
The diatoms have a hard shell made of non-crystalline silica, which does not decompose in the lakes, or sea where diatoms live. Thus, over long periods of time, large volumes of fossilised diatoms are exposed on the surface from dried out lakes. Crushed to a fine powder and observed through a microscope, the particles resemble bits of broken glass. Deadly to any insect but completely harmless to animals, fish, fowl or food.
What Type Should I Buy?
There are actually two kinds of diatomaceous earth to be found on the market. The kind that you DO NOT want for food use, is the type sold by swimming pool suppliers as a filtering agent. This has been subjected to a heat treatment that dramatically increases it's crystalline silicate content and makes it unsuitable for use with foodstuffs. The other type has not been heat treated and has a crystalline silica content of no more than 1% - 1.5%. Diatomaceous Earth is a natural grade diatomite and requires no warning label on the bag or container. However, the continual breathing of any dust should be absolutely avoided.
Most insects have a waxy outer shell covering their bodies. Diatomaceous Earth scratches through this shell causing the insect to dehydrate, leading to eventual death. Therefore, it controls insects by physical means rather than chemical, and thus has no chemical toxicity.
Diatomaceous Earth once mined, is then ground and screened to various grades for the countless uses in today's products and processes, from toothpaste to cigars, plastics to paprika, filter media in swimming pools to home fish tanks as well as insect and parasite control in animals and grains.
Diatomaceous Earth is effective against:
Ants, Aphids, Bollworm, Red Mite, Ticks, Fleas, Cockroaches, Clothes Moth, Corn Worm, Earwig, House Fly, Fruit Fly, Lead Perforator, Greenfly, Leaf Hopper, Lygus Bug, Mite, Black Fly, Salt Marsh Caterpillar, Pink Boll Weevil, Red Spider Mite, Box Elder Bugs, Carpet Beetles, Centipedes, Millipedes, Silverfish, Slugs, Snails and other insects.
It can be expected that most insects will die from contact with Diatomaceous Earth within a few days.
Diatomaceous Earth can also have a very good long term residual effect, i.e. when applied to cracks and crevices. This long term protection and control of insects can be achieved due to Diatomaceous Earth controlling parasites by physical means, not chemical, and therefore denying them the ability to build up a resistance to it in future generations.
* Effectiveness will be reduced if the Diatomaceous Earth is exposed to a high relative humidity of 75% (or above) as the diatom shells will take in moisture.*
Parasite Control in Poultry
Mighty Organic Bedding Powder (Diatomaceous Earth) can control red mite in poultry houses when thoroughly applied to walls, floors, ceilings, perches, nest boxes and cages at 10-15g per square metre.
Indoor and Outdoor Application
Sprinkle a light layer of Mighty Organic Bedding Powder in areas where pests frequent, including under cookers, cabinets, sinks, dustbins, window and door frames and sills, entrance ways, sewer pipes and drains, and in cracks and crevices. Repeat treatment as needed.
For Carpet Beetles - Thoroughly dust along skirting boards, carpet edges, under furniture, carpet and rugs and in closets and shelving.
For Fleas - Thoroughly dust carpets, pet's bedding and sleeping areas, as well as cracks and skirting boards. It can also be rubbed into your pets fur.
For Flies - Thoroughly dust areas where flies frequent (walls, straw bedding, livestock pens).
Slugs and Snails - To use, simply sprinkle around flowers and vegetable gardens.
Microscopic photographs of diatoms.
Parasite Control in Livestock and Other Animals
Diatomaceous Earth has been used for at least three decades as a natural wormer for livestock.
For effective use it must be fed long enough to catch all the newly hatching eggs or cycling of the worms through the lungs and back to the stomach.
*A minimum of 60 days is suggested at 2% dry weight of the grain ration.*
Mighty Organic Bedding Powder can also be applied to livestock's coats as an insect repellent/contact insecticide. Both internal and external parasite control will result in improved health, appearance and behaviour, as well as assimilation of feed, which means improved weight gain and lower feed costs.
Mighty Organic Bedding Powder can also used as an animal feed additive for cows, calves, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, ducks, dogs, cats, pigeons and other pet or farm animals.
Suggested Feeding and Application Rates:
• Poultry: 5% in feed - use at full strength in dusting boxes.
• Horses: 5oz. in daily feed ration - per horse.
• Dogs: 1 tablespoon per day in daily ration for dogs over 25kgs. 1 teaspoon per day in daily ration for small dogs and puppies (under 25kgs). Rub Mighty Organic Bedding Powder at full strength into the coat for fleas and sprinkle on bedding.
• Cats: 1 teaspoon per day in daily ration. Rub Mighty Organic Bedding Powder at full strength into the coat for fleas and sprinkle on bedding.
• Goats: 2% by total weight of dry rations. 4% for ten days as a purge.
• Sheep: 2% in ground grains. 4% for ten days as a purge.
• Pigs: 2% of total weight of dry ration. 4% for ten days as a purge. Dust or spray on bedding and animals.
• Beef Cattle: 2% by total weight of dry rations. 4% for ten days as a purge.
• Dairy Cattle: 4% of total weight of dry rations.
• Calves: 1oz. in morning milk - per calf.
*A weekly check of livestock should be made through the first 45 day feeding period for evidence of a reduction in protein content, parasites and ova in the faeces.*
If you began feeding Diatomaceous Earth to your poultry or livestock and noticed a gain in production.
What could the gain be attributed to?
The answer could be that Diatomaceous Earth has reduced the parasite population resulting in decreased stress on the animal and increased food assimilation.
But what about the mineral content of Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous Earth provides a broad spectrum of naturally occurring chelated minerals. These include potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, sodium, titanium and others. Many accounts of gain have been reported when adding Diatomaceous Earth to a ration. With the lack of mineralization in modern grains, it isn't hard to conceive of mineral benefits from a finely ground natural mineral product. Feeding at 2% of grain ration can take care of both de-worming and mineralization. Most livestock will acquire a 'taste' for the mineral if a small amount is mixed in with other feed. After acquiring a taste for Diatomaceous Earth, they may take it free-choice.
Diatomaceous Earth has a unique combination of physical properties:
Up to 85% of the volume of Diatomaceous Earth is made up of tiny interconnected pores. It is quite literally more air than Diatomaceous Earth.
Diatomaceous Earth can generally absorb up to 1 times its own weight in liquid and still exhibit the properties of a dry powder.
High Surface Area/Particle Structure
Diatom particles are characterised by their very irregular shapes, generally spiny structures and pitted surface area. They average only 5 to 20 microns in diameter, yet have a surface area several times greater than any other mineral with the same particle size. Diatomaceous Earth increases bulk without adding very much weight. These features it is believed, are what make it an ideal mineral for internal parasite control in animals.
A selection of planktonic diatoms.
Fly Control / InsecticideFly control is a major predicament with livestock operations. To reduce this problem Diatomaceous Earth can be placed in tightly woven Hessian bags and hung in doorways. Livestock will be attracted to it and work the bag until their heads are covered with the powder. This will then repel flies. Mixing Diatomaceous Earth with things that flies are attracted to around the farm may also cause them to ingest it in their attempts to eat the attractant.
Absorption / Deodorization
Absorption and deodorization are natural features of Diatomaceous Earth. These functions will continue to happen as undigested Diatoms pass through with manure. Reduced fly hatching is usually observed in manure from livestock fed on Diatomaceous Earth. Some dairy and pig farmers are also spreading it in bedding (for odour and moisture control) in addition to that coming through the manure.
Insect Control - Suggested Mighty Organic Bedding Powder (Diatomaceous Earth) Application Rates.
For crops and pastures use 6 - 10kgs per hectare (in calm air). Dust after rain, overhead irrigation, or after a heavy dew to increase sticking of the powder. Dust the plant upward from the ground covering all stems, top and underside of leaves. For enclosed areas, use ½ to ¾ lb per 10002 feet. Sprinkle in areas where ants and roaches are present or areas in which they run, such as skirting boards, under sinks, etc. Hang dust bags in doorways of barns, milking areas, etc.
In the Row
Use 1.8kg per acre injected over the seed. Premix Mighty Organic Bedding Powder with a wetting agent and water, then add the mixture to the planter.
As a Spray
Mix 2 lbs per gallon of water with a wetting agent. Rates as low as ¼ lb. per 5 gallons of water with a wetting agent have been effective.
Be sure to keep the mixture agitated.
Sprinkle liberally on the ground and around tree trunks. Tree trunks can also be painted with a mixture of Mighty Organic Bedding Powder, water, linseed soap or a wetting agent. This will inhibit the migration of various fruit flies (maggot stage), worms and beetles (grub stage). Diatomaceous Earth is not harmful to Earthworms since they are structurally different from insects. When a spray is desired, refer to the spray rates (see above).
Use at a rate of seven lbs. per ton of grain in barley, corn, wheat, oats, rice, rye, and mixtures of these grains. Mighty Organic Bedding Powder is most effective when grain is treated directly after harvest by coating the outside surface of the grain. This can be done by applying the Mighty Organic Bedding Powder at the elevator or grain auger when the grain is moved into storage. The rate of application for this is: 3kg Mighty Organic Bedding Powder per ton of grain.