Diatomaceous Earth

DE (for short) is the remains of microscopic one-celled plants (phytoplankton) called diatoms
 that lived in the oceans that once covered the western part of the United States and other parts
 of the world. It has been said that natural DE makes a very effective natural insecticide due to
 the razor sharp edges of the diatom remains.

Is DE an effective way of controlling parasites in livestock?
Two opinions for your review ..................

Diatomaceous Earth: The "Silver Bullet"
by Howard Garrett

Not long ago, I started talking about diatomaceous earth as an insecticide. Boy,
was I a genius. This stuff had only been around since near the beginning of time.
It's been nature's insecticide since than and its other uses are many. So why
haven't the university systems and all the gardening experts been recommending it for years?

More recently I started talking about using natural DE as a food supplement for
animals. The results are almost too good to believe - even for me, and the question
again comes up - why am I the only one recommending this stuff? Seems like the
vets should be extolling the virtues of DE from the highest hills.

Undaunted ( hard headed might be a better choice of words), I wrote about DE in
the Dallas Morning News and when I started the gardening show at WBAP, it was
the main topic of conversation. So much so that my boss told me that show was
getting a little boring from talking about DE every call. I didn't ask the questions -
just answered them.

Natural diatomaceous earth (DE for short) is the remains of microscopic one-celled
plants (phytoplankton) called diatoms that lived in the oceans that once covered the
western part of the United States and other parts of the world. Huge deposits were left
behind when the water receded. They are now mined and have several important uses
in toothpaste, beer filtering, and swimming pool filters. DE is approximately 3% magnesium,
86% silicon, 5% sodium, 2% iron and many other trace minerals such as titanium, boron,
manganese, copper and zirconium.

Natural DE also makes a very effective natural insecticide. The insecticidal quality of
DE is due to the razor sharp edges of the diatom remains. When DE comes contact
with the insects, the sharp edges lacerate the bugs' waxy exoskeleton and then the
powdery DE absorbs the body fluids causing death from dehydration. Said more simply,
DE kills insects by drying then up. You'll see how drying DE is if you handle it with bare

There is no residual danger of contamination. In fact, DE is actually beneficial to the
soil. It's loaded with trace minerals. However, there are a few precautions. Diatomaceous
earth is very dusty and can cause lung problems if breathed heavily, so when applying
it dry always wear a good dust mask or stand up wind. The second precaution is that
DE sold for swimming pool filters is ineffective for insect control because it has been
heated and chemically treated. It won't kill insects and it is very dangerous to breathe.
Finally natural DE will kill beneficial insects too, so use it sparingly to kill problem
infestations of harmful insects and don't use it too often.

Diatomaceous earth can be applied in a variety of ways. to use for flea and tick control,
apply a light dusting over the lawn, in dog runs, around pet bedding or favorite resting
spots and sprinkle a little on your pet between baths of a mild herbal soap. Avoid Dips
and soaps containing chemical insecticides. It's also a good idea to avoid soaps that
contain ammonium laurel sulfate. It's used to make good studs but it is a skin irritant.
Check out your own soap and tooth paste while you're at it.

The best way to apply the dust over a large area is with a light weight apparatus such
as Dustin' Mizer, Spritzer or other similar blowers. Applying by hands can be done but
wastes a lot of material and will dry your skin. To apply with water, mix 1/4 cup of DE
in a gallon of water and apply to the lawn and/or shrubs where pest problems exist. It
doesn't hurt insects until it dries out.

One of the best uses of DE is to add it to animal food - pets or livestock. When used
at 1% to 2% of the food volume, it controls internal parasites, increases digestion and
provides valuable trace minerals. You will usually see an overall increase in health of
ny animals fed DE on a regular basis.

Here are some of the common questions I get on natural diatomaceous earth:

Is DE dangerous to my pets, me or my family?

Since DE is dusty and abrasive, it can cause lung damage if breathed heavily. remember, however, that breathing any dusty materials can be dangerous. be sure to wear a dusk mask if applying with a dry blower. Mixing into a water spray eliminates most of these problems. DE will not hurt earthworms or beneficial soil microorganisms. DE is one of the few pesticides in the world classified as non-toxic, although I'm not real comfortable with the classification. I think anything can be toxic if over used or misused.

How much DE should I feed my animals?

Some of the feeding rations suggested by suppliers and users include: 1-2% by weight of DE in ground, dry feed. 5% by weight in stored grain. 5 ounces ( one cup) daily ration for horses. one tablespoon per day for large dogs (over 55 lb.). One teaspoon per day for small dogs, cats and puppies.

Does spraying DE in a wet solution work as well as the dry dust?

The wet spray method does work but only after the liquid had dried. Mix from 1-4 tablespoons DE per gallon of water and spray on the lawn, shrubs, tree trunks and building foundations. When the mixture dried, it has the same abrasive and dehydrating powers as the original dry dust. When sprayed wet the material covers the foliage and other surfaces better than dusting dry, thus giving better insect control. It seems to last longer when applied wet, but the dry application is usually more effective at killing insects quickly. DE has no insect killing power while it is wet.

Can I mix DE with other sprays?

Yes, it can be mixed with other organic products such as seaweed, fish emulsion, garlic tea, and biostimulants. it would be silly to mix DE with chemical insecticides. In fact, it's silly to use synthetic toxic pesticides for anything.

Is DE registered by the EPA and labeled for insect control?

Yes! Some people would have you believe that DE is untested, unlabeled and therefore unsafe for use. That's just one of the feeble arguments left to the organiphobes. DE has been used for years in the food processing industry to treat stored gains to eliminate weevil and other insect infestations. There are currently dozen of registrations of DE with the EPA for various insecticidal and food supplement uses. DE, with and without pyrethrins and piperonyl butoxide, is registered and labeled for fleas, ants, roaches and many other pests.

Piperony butoxide (PBO) is a synthetic synergism that is added to increase the killing
power of the product. I do not recommend it for any use. Those wanting to avoid it can
mix pure pyrethrum and DE together at a 25% -75% ratio. Pyrethrum products that are
available include Natural Guard and ECOsafe . There is approximately 1% pyrethrin in
natural pyrethrum powder. Pyrethroids are synthetic insecticides. They do not resemble
natural pyrethrum and should not be used.

(note: ECOsafe was a tradename for Natural Animal)
Source: Natural Animal Home & Garden Products

Added Notes:
Be sure the Diatomaceous Earth is FOOD GRADE. There is a lesser quality
DE sold for swimming pools. This is NOT the same.

Some breeders put it in the llama's dust bowl for them to roll in.

Dust it over manure piles or onto the manure spreader.

Some llama owners hesitate to add DE to their grain supplement for fear
of the dust they will inhale. But, it can be added to home made llama cookies.


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