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Natural Pest Control & Pesticides

Pick a pest and you can usually find a natural pesticide control for it - one that won't poison you, your kids or your pets.
Natural pest control is less expensive than buying and applying pesticides, and it's safer for your garden, natural wildlife and the environment. Each year North American homes use approximately 136 million pounds of pesticides on lawns and gardens, and in the home. In fact, homeowners use about three times the amount of pesticides as farmers. Most wildlife pest poisonings, and most surface water contamination from pesticides, come from single-family homes.

Diatomaceous Earth

Homemade remedies are inexpensive and, best of all, you know what is going into your garden. Many homemade sprays have been used with good results to control harmful insects. They usually involve noxious (but non-toxic) ingredients such as garlic, cayenne, stinging nettles or horsetail which are diluted in water and blended to be sprayed on the plants. Here is one natural pesticide that I like.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

This is a question that constantly comes up on my radio show. Home & Garden Radio With Michael Crose on Business Talk Radio Network. It all started about 15 years ago when someone called my show and asked about the use of diatomaceous earth (or D.E.) as a natural pesticide. I had heard of D.E. as something we used in our swimming pool filter, but I had no idea what it was made of or what it's uses were. This was soon to change.

It did not take long for people from all over the world were sending me information about this wonderful mineral. Diatomaceous Earth in it's natural state is s soft rock like material consisting of the fossilized remains of little dead microscopic single celled plants of fresh and salt water called diatoms. They look like snowflakes in stone. Billions and billions of these delicate, lacy shells form whole mountains of this lightweight, white to golden colored mineral we now call Diatomaceous Earth. The D.E. that is in use today has been fossilized and preserved for millions of years.

Diatoms live in salt and fresh water, although the D.E. that is used by many organic gardeners for controlling pests and soil conditioning is the fresh water lake bed mined material. It is a golden or tan color.

D.E.'s Many Uses

Diatomaceous Earth is used for many things in many parts of the world. In the west near many of the salt bases D.E. mines it is used in the manufacture of concrete. This salt bases product is also used for the filtering product that many of us use in swimming pools. Before it is sold to the consumer it is crushed then heated to very high temperatures. This make the product very fine and fluffy. It is ideal in this state for filtering water and many other liquids. In it's natural state the fresh water lake bed mined Diatomaceous Earth has many uses that organic gardeners and others who are more inclined to use natural products enjoy. Soil conditioning is one use that is popular as well as using D.E. as a natural form of pest control. In both of these uses the preferred product has been crushed into a fine powder but NOT heated. It is hard to find Diatomaceous Earth in this form but it is worth it as it's effectiveness can not be beat.

Diatomaceous Earth As A Soil Conditioner

Diatomaceous Earth is very effective in breaking up hard pan. conditioning heavy clay soils and amending over-worked land.

In addition D.E. absorbs up to three times it's weight in water. This alone will conserve and better utilize irrigation and require less water.

D.E. TIP 1.

Add Diatomaceous Earth to your potting soil. One of my listeners from Detroit tell me that she mixes one part D.E. to four parts of her favorite potting soil. She is watering much less. Containing up to 14 minerals Diatomaceous Earth also activates, fortifies and helps to revitalize the soil, resulting in much healthier plants.

Diatomaceous Earth As Natural Pest Control

One of the more popular uses of D.E. is as a natural form of pest control . Because of the many tiny sharp edges on each spec. of D.E., when it comes in contact with insects D.E. absorbs the waxy coating that covers the insect causing a laceration of the exposed tissue. This is aggravated by the insects writhing. The insect dies from dehydration, usually within a few hours.
Since I first began talking about Diatomaceous Earth coast to coast on my radio show four years ago it has become a very popular form of natural pest control. As a matter of fact I learned last year at a pest control trade show I attended that professional pest control operators from all over the country were using D.E. as an important aspect of their regular service. All that I talked to were very happy with the results they achieved for using this natural product on many insects. Here are some of the tips the professional's are using.

D.E. TIP NO. 2.

Dusting your attic is very effective in stopping roaches from entering your house. If you have a crawl space you will want to dust that area as well. The difference in using D.E. for this porpoise as opposed to a chemical pesticide is that with D.E. you can re-enter the area without the fear of coming in contact with a chemical. D.E. is actually more effective, lasts longer and will not hurt people or pets.

D.E. TIP NO. 3.

Remove all switch plates in your home and using a hand duster or a plastic ketchup bottle, shoot a small puff of dust into the wall area. This only needs to be done one time. Puff some D.E. under your appliances and under the sinks, near the pipes. Look for cracks and crevices to apply the dust to. Any where roaches my hide is a good place to puff some dust into.

D.E. TIP NO. 4.

Ants can be a problem that we all have to deal with on occasion. A pest control operator from Tampa told me the he applies the dust right on the mound. It takes a day or so to work but it is very effective. On a 12 inch mound he uses about two to three cups of D.E., right on top. The nice thing about using this product is that you are not hurting the soil or ground water supply.

D.E. TIP NO. 5.

The brown garden snail is a destructive and annoying pest to many gardeners through out many parts of the country. Building a half inch barrier of Diatomaceous Earth around the garden will keep these pests out as well as condition the soil.

D.E. TIP NO. 6.

Making a paste with D.E., water and any liquid soap and applying it to the affected areas of the tree is very effective at controlling most borers that affect trees.

D.E. TIP NO. 7.

I talked to a pest control operator from Texas who sprays trees affected with any caterpillar or worm. He uses a hose attachment sprayer and in the jar attachment he fills it half way with D.E. them adds 3 ounces of liquid soap and the rest with water. He shakes it up to keep it in suspension and sprays the foliage of the tree or shrub.

D.E. TIP NO. 8..

Using the same mix as stated in tip no seven, spray as needed. Usually about 7 to 10 day apart.

D.E. TIP NO. 9.

Apply as a dust or mix one part D.E. and three parts water with a small amount of liquid soap and spray. Use only when you have a target pest as some insects are beneficial.

D.E. TIP NO. 10..

On pet bedding and even in small amounts, right on the pet, many people (including myself) have been very happy with the results we have seen. In the home I am sorry to say that Diatomaceous Earth may not be the best thing to use. Tests conducted at the University of Florida's entomology department has shown that D.E. while useful on controlling adult fleas, will not control the larva stage of this insect. If you can not control the larva you can not control the infestation.

In Conclusion

Let me say that I think Diatomaceous Earth is one of the most innovative, newest, "old things" around. It is a simple, back to basic answer for many needs we have in the past used chemicals for. They say that left alone, nature has a way of taking care of it's self. I believe that D.E. is just one of the natural solutions that was blessed on us. Let us take full advantage of it and use the gifts we were given.