Everything you should know about diatomaceous earth

diatomaceous earth

Touted as a miracle product for its ability to be used for everything from deodorizing homes to making facials, diatomaceous earth has countless applications. However, for cottage owners, it’s most notably a great pesticide alternative. Here’s everything you need to know about this bug-killing sand.

Diatomaceous earth is naturally occurring

The sediment, which can be crumbled into a fine off-white powder, is made of the fossilized remains of phytoplankton or algae. Made of silica, these fossilized remains can be found in the sediment of rivers, lakes, and oceans.

It’s a great way to combat pests without introducing toxins to your cottage environment

Diatomaceous earth works to kills insects by absorbing the lipids (or oils and fats) from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, which causes dehydration. However, unlike chemical pesticides, it’s non-toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates and is not known to be harmful to animals and wildlife. (In fact, sometimes it’s even used to control internal and external parasites in pets and livestock.)

It’s food-grade

Billed by many as “bug killer you can eat,” not only can you consume this non-toxic pesticide—you likely already do. Many grains are stored with diatomaceous earth to prevent insects from eating the grains. It’s also found in toothpaste. This means that it’s safe to use in yards where pets or small children play.

Sprinkled beneath your plants on the soil’s surface, diatomaceous earth will keep bugs at bay

However, it’s less effective in wet conditions. This means that it has lower efficacy in the treatment of garden slugs, since they thrive in humid environments. Diatomaceous earth will also need to re-applied after rain or a heavy dew.

On the downside, it’s dangerous to bees

Unfortunately, diatomaceous earth is so effective that it will kill beneficial insects as well. Either avoid putting the powder near plants that bees are attracted to, or cover treated plants with a sheet. Later, remove the sheet and wash the plants with water to remove any traces of the powder

In addition to acting as a pesticide, it can also be used as a soil conditioner

Diatomaceous earth is particularly beneficial to vegetable gardens, due to its ability to allow high oxygen circulation and its ability to retain water and nutrients, all while draining excess water fast.

It can also be used within your house to control pests

If you want to avoid the use of harsh chemicals indoors, you can use diatomaceous earth to combat bed bugs, cockroaches, ants, and fleas.