Diatomaceous earth was discovered between 1836-1837, while drilling a well in Germany. At the time it was thought to be a type of limestone. Its hard and porous characteristics make it a popular filtering agent in several different filtration processes. It’s often used to filter drinking water, swimming pools, and fish tanks to name a few. An increasingly popular use of diatomaceous earth is in relation to agriculture.
Used as an insecticide and pesticide, its sharp characteristics (silica) make it effective in eradicating pests, working from the inside out to slice through their exoskeletons.
There are two types of diatomaceous earth: food-grade and filter-grade. Typically, you use food-grade diatomaceous earth on your gardens and pets, while filter-grade diatomaceous earth is used in pool filters or to kill pests.
Pests such as fleas, which have a hard exterior shell, are vulnerable to the razor sharp edges of the miniscule diatoms. The silica (glass like shards) cut through the waxy exterior shells, drying out the insect, as well as its larvae and killing it. An advantage of diatomaceous earth is that it works physically, and isn’t a toxic chemical. Pests cannot adapt to it or become immune and diatomaceous earth works continuously without losing power over time.
The following steps will help you to incorporate Diatomaceous Earth (DE) into your home pest prevention routine:
Find the areas around your house that your pet inhabits (beds, kennels, or a favorite pillow or rug).
Vacuum this area. This helps collect any flea eggs that might be lying around; dispersing those eggs before you apply the DE is essential as flea eggs aren’t affected by DE until after they hatch.
After vacuuming, and making sure the area is DRY, begin sprinkling DE onto the designated area.
After 3 days, vacuum the area dusted with the DE to collect any dead fleas, eggs, larvae, and pupae, to stop the cycle.
Bathe your pet thoroughly. Diatomaceous earth is very astringent. A soap-free or moisturizing cleanser is best.
After bathing, comb your pet with a flea comb with narrow teeth to help rid your pet of fleas.
Treat pet bedding with diatomaceous earth twice weekly, leaving it for about 3 days. Repeat this process for 3 weeks.
Diatomaceous earth is a safe and effective pest combatant. There are many pest treatments available and to chose one, you’ll want to take into consideration the severity of the situation, climate issues, and your pet’s overall health. Your veterinarian can help to tailor a plan specific to your family’s needs.