Natural Flea Killer: Diatomaceous Earth
Flea Control, Natural Wormer
Controls Grain Weevils, Chicken Lice, and More!
Looking for a natural flea killer that is non-toxic? How about a natural flea remedy that is so safe you can put it in your flour to control grain weevils? When considering uses for diatomaceous earth flea control is just one of many!
Being a natural substance that is completely non-toxic to mammals, diatomaceous earth is accepted for use on organic farms for a dazzling range of applications without affecting their compliance to organic certification standards.
Diatomaceous earth is truly remarkable and amazingly useful around the farm or homestead, but what is it exactly and how does it work?
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is made up of the microscopic bodies of fossilized phyto-plankton or diatoms, laid down as marine sediment some 20 million or more years ago.
It is high in silica and also contains 15 essential trace minerals including phosphorous, selenium, calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron. Fed orally to your animals it promotes improved health, vitality and productivity when used regularly.
DE Ain’t DE...
DE comes in many grades, depending on purity, fineness and processing.
Unless stated otherwise, the applications described below refer to the highest quality “ultra-fine” grade which has been derived via a heating process, and has a particle size of less than 15 microns. Only this quality of DE (Absorbicide) is registered with the Australian Veterinary and Pesticides Authority for use against insect pests.
WARNING: Diatomaceous earth for pool filters is harmful and ineffective for the uses described here.
How It Works As a Natural Flea Killer and Against Other Insects
The effectiveness of diatomaceous earth as a physical insecticide has been confirmed throughout the world – for example by both the CSIRO and Queensland DPI in Australia alone. It has two modes of action.
The tiny diatoms are razor sharp, getting caught in and abrasively rupturing insect cuticles, an effect that is especially lethal to small insects making it a natural flea killer. This then allows the desiccant properties of DE – due to its high silica content - to take effect, drawing out the insect’s moisture causing them to die of dehydration.
Controlled studies have proven the efficacy of diatomaceous earth not just as a natural flea killer, but for a wide range of applications against both insects and intestinal parasites.
Uses for Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth Flea Control
As registered dog breeders we recently turned to diatomaceous earth as a natural flea killer when the usual “back-line” insecticides began to fail to control fleas on our dogs due to the development of chemical resistance.
It is the simplest homemade flea killer around. Just dust it lightly but thoroughly into the fur just like you would other powdered flea remedies.
What did surprise us about this natural flea remedy was, unlike normal flea powders that need to be applied every day or so, a single application of our DE natural flea killer has kept our dogs flea-free for over a month now.
Truly amazing, and probably linked to residual diatomaceous earth fleas contact with other stages - residing in the places dogs frequent - where the diatoms have undoubtedly shed from the fur into the environment.
However, for best results also treat the bedding of your pets with this homemade flea killer, and apply a light sprinkle to carpets they frequent (leave 3 days and then vacuum).
From Natural Flea Killer to Poultry Lice and Red Mite Control
Last winter we suffered an outbreak of chicken lice. To dust our 22 chickens with 2 kg of a common off-the-shelf poultry dust cost $75 a time!
Seeking a more cost-effective organic solution was why we turned our attention to diatomaceous earth in the first place. We have found it 100% effective against poultry lice. And we’d certainly try it out as home remedies for head lice in people the next time this eventuality comes up.
In one scientific study, when dusted onto nest boxes at 100g per square meter, a single application of diatomaceous earth was found to completely control poultry red mites, and also provided ongoing protection from re-infection.
From Natural Flea Killer to Natural Wormer in Livestock and Pets
Given orally, diatomaceous earth has been reported as effective, non-toxic natural wormers to control most types of intestinal parasites - including tapeworms, roundworms, pin worms, etc - in a wide range of animals, from horses and dogs to poultry and sheep.
Because it has no toxins whatever, there is no withholding period on the produce of animals treated with diatomaceous earth natural wormer.
For best results, feed food grade diatomaceous earth should be given for a duration covering one whole life cycle of the intestinal parasite you wish to control. For most gut worms, 60 days is recommended (90 days for lungworms).
If your animals are not egg-free after this period, increase the dose of diatomaceous earth – it is non-toxic, so there is no danger. And because parasites can’t develop immunity to its physical mode of action, there is no need to rotate your wormers.
Here are some RECOMMENDED DOSE RATES for natural worm control:
• Cats: Give kittens 1/2 teaspoon/day, and cats 1 teaspoon/day for the best of natural cat wormers.
• Dogs: To use DE as a natural dog wormer, give puppies ½ - 1 teaspoon/day, and dogs 1 teaspoon for every 17 lbs (8 kg) body weight per day.
• Livestock: As a natural wormer for sheep, natural cattle wormer, natural goat wormer for worming goats, and similarly for alpacas, pigs and other livestock, feed out as 2% of the dry feed ration. A great dairy farmer farming organic resource!
• Natural Poultry Wormer: As a natural wormer for chickens and other poultry, give as 5% of the dry feed ration.
• Horses: Between ½ and 1 cup a day for the best of natural horse wormers.
• Humans: 3 teaspoons a day taken as 1 tpsn in a glass of water on an empty stomach between meals three times a day.
Just incorporate the DE into the daily ration. You can also safely offer it to all your animals as free choice, allowing them to take what they need.
Fed daily, DE also reduces fly loads around the farm because of its presence in the manure of treated animals.
From Natural Flea Killer to Safe Household Insect Control
Incorporated into the walls, floor and ceilings of your home or barn, diatomaceous earth prevents infestation by a wide range of insects and bugs including ants, fleas, mites, ticks, flies, silverfish, cockroaches, bedbugs, centipedes, earwigs and termites.
Apply inside your home too, along skirtings, inside cabinets, and lightly in your carpets to control any insect problem. It is recommended to treat inside your home for at least 30 days for best results, so that you catch all stages of the pest life cycle. Be aware that excessive applications can clog or damage your vacuum cleaner!
From Natural Flea Killer to Organic Pest Control in the Garden
Fine grade diatomite is being used commercially against a wide variety of horticultural pests as an organic pest control spray (just mix with water).
While very few controlled studies have been done on the use of diatomaceous earth gardens and farms, preparations containing diatomaceous earth have been reported to be effective in controlling aphids, caterpillars, fruit fly, earwigs, slugs, squash vine borers, snails, cut worms, corn earworm, cucumber beetles, thrips, codling moth, flies, ants and more.
Toxicity to beneficial insects (wasps are particularly sensitive) can be minimized by applying it late in the afternoon or evening. The dust must be reapplied after rain. For best results apply to damp foliage, during dry weather.
Exercise caution when using DE to reduce odor or flies from compost piles and worm farms, as applied too liberally - or mechanically mixed in - it will harm earthworms. To prevent hurting your earthworms, sprinkle lightly to the surface only, allowing the worms to work it in, in their own time.
From Natural Flea Killer to Control of Grain Weevils
Safe, long-term storage of grain and seeds is an age-old problem – how do you protect it from grain weevils, or get rid of weevils once an infestation is established?
Again, diatomaceous earth saves the day. DE is registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority as an effective agent against the major coleopterous pests of stored grain including:
• Lesser grain borer, Rhyzopertha dominica
• Granary weevil, Sitophilus granarius
• Rice weevil, Sitophilus oryzae
• Sawtoothed grain beetle, Oryzaephilus surinamensis
• Rust-red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum.
DE is trickled into grain at a rate of 1kg per 1000kg, or spread in empty silos and other storage facilities at the rate of 2gm per square meter. It is most effective on grains with low moisture content (less than 10%), and when the correct grade is used.
According to a study by Acres USA, DE protects grain thousands of times better and longer than a standard malathion treatment.
And it is completely safe to use in grain intended for human or animal consumption.
From Natural Flea Killer to Small Hive Beetle Trap
Pure diatomaceous earth has now been approved by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for control of Small Hive Beetle inside beehives.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries provides easy instructions on how to make a Small Hive Beetle Trap using diatomaceous earth. This basically involves gluing the DE onto plywood, which is placed face down on the bottom board inside the beehive.
From Natural Flea Killer to Elimination of Algae in Water Supply
Apply food grade diatomaceous earth to livestock or household water reservoirs and troughs to stop the proliferation of algae during warmer months. The amount needed will depend on the type of container and local weather conditions, so start with a small quantity and use more if necessary.
From Natural Flea Killer to Natural Soil Enhancer
Crushed and unprocessed Diatomaceous Earth is known in Australia as Purasil, the “Nursery Grade” form of DE. It has a coarse particle size of 0.9-2.0 mm, and unlike the fine-grade, processed product recommended as a natural flea killer and the uses above, is not heat treated.
However, the cheaper “Nursery grade” of DE is a very useful ingredient in potting mixes.
• Having a high water holding capacity, it acts as a wetting agent, holding water and slowly releasing it to plants.
• It is a rich source of the nutrient silica which strengthens cell walls, providing protection against insect pests and fungal attack, and resulting in more robust and efficient plants.
Australia’s CSIRO have demonstrated big increases in yield from sugar cane by adding plant available silica to the soil.
• The silica in DE ties up aluminium, manganese and heavy metal toxicity, and enhances the availability of calcium and phosphorous.
• Diatomaceous earth boosts soil cation exchange capacity, preventing loss of soil nutrients.
• The diatom shells in DE provide habitat for soil microbes, boosting soil life.
• When plants take up the soluble silica from DE some is incorporated into their root tips, boosting their strength and ability to penetrate and mine the soil.
Precautions of Using Diatomaceous Earth
Though it is a natural flea killer and lethal to most insects, the toxicity of diatomaceous earth is so low that it is not even counted as a foreign substance when grain is rated by the United States Department of Agriculture.
The only significant health effect may arise from long term chronic exposure to quantities of the inhaled dust so protect yourself with goggles and a face mask when using DE. Being a dessicating agent, it will dry the eyes and skin, so wear protective clothing and do not apply when your animals or people are downwind.
Use only food-grade diatomaceous earth for insect control or medicinally, not DE treated for swimming pool filter use, as the latter contains crystalline silica, a dangerous respiratory hazard and potential poison.
Use sparingly on carpets as it can cause problems with your vacuum cleaner if applied too liberally.
DISCLAIMER: The foregoing information are suggestions only – not recommendations – based on user experiences. It is not offered as a substitute for qualified medical advice nor your own independent judgment and personal responsibility.
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