A Large Region On Earth With Particular Plant And Animal Diatomaceous Earth As a Pesticide

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Diatomaceous Earth As a Pesticide

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an inert dust and rock type composed of fossilized diatom skeletons. These diatoms were small, single-celled marine and freshwater plant organisms composed primarily of silica, a naturally occurring mineral. When crushed, these skeletons break up into small pieces of a glass-like material, so small that the material feels like talcum powder. This is easily captured by the hairy bodies of most insects, where it is scratched through their protective layers of wax; and they also absorb some of this material resulting in the insect’s rapid dehydration, desiccation and death.

DE has been extracted for use in industrial filtration applications, but its oldest and best-known commercial use is as a very mild abrasive in metal polishes and toothpastes. It has also been used as an exfoliant in skin products, a source of detoxification and as a mineral additive in pet food, and an extremely effective pesticide with reduced risk.

Large deposits occur in California, Nevada, Washington, and Oregon, but they are collected from the bottom sediments of oceans, lakes, and rivers around the globe.

There is no evidence that DE or the silica it is made of is toxic to humans or animals, including experiments with cancer research. That said, there is one particular form of silica that can pose a health risk, but the amount that occurs in natural DE is so small that any health risk is completely ruled out.

When DE is heated to high temperatures, the silica changes chemically and becomes a potentially harmful form, but only if inhaled at high levels over a long period of time (years) under occupational conditions only. It should be noted that “pool filter grade” DE is processed differently and is not recommended for use in pest control.

Naturally occurring DE sold in garden centers and other retail outlets labeled “food grade” poses no more health risk than dust inhalation in general; for most people, nothing more than an unpleasant inconvenience. Food grade DE is non-toxic and safe for human consumption. It is also allowed in foods labeled “organic” by the US Department of Agriculture. However, it is recommended that DE be applied with a powder duster and protective equipment such as a dust mask.

DE is in no way harmful to rivers, lakes, fish or other aquatic life. In water, it is essentially the same as ordinary sand. Remember, it was actually created by living marine organisms.

Natural DE is used as an insecticide, where it works purely physically and not through any chemical toxicity. The abrasive skeletons of diatoms act like tiny razors and rub holes in the soft parts of insects, causing loss of body fluids resulting in the death of the insect. All other animals and humans are immune to this effect. It is effective on anything with an exoskeleton; any insect (with six legs) and non-insect arthropods (eight or more legs).

DE is in no way harmful to plants (although it’s probably not good to let plants drown in dust).

Using bug sprays like DE to control bugs has been around for thousands of years. Ancient cultures around the world used them to protect stored grains against pantry pests like moths and beetles. The same modus operandi is used by birds and other animals that take dust baths – they are ridding themselves of their insect parasites.

Another use of DE is in animal production units for the control of external parasites and flies. This control is achieved by dusting the animals and the litter or bedding area. It is also included in the diet (two percent to grain ratio) to control some internal parasites, and this practice is said to result in lower fly populations in the resulting manure.

According to Professor Stuart B. Hill of McGill University in Canada “… It is probably the safest effective pesticide for home use and has a valuable place in the protection of stored food and insect control in animal production units”.

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