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YARD, GARDEN, & LANDSCAPE APPLICATIONS:
Food grade DE works great around the home and garden as a natural pesticide. Apply DE to ant hills. Small ants may require a few applications to completely eliminate them, because they burrow new hills elsewhere after the first application. As long as the DE is present though, the ants will keep away from it. Big ants are eliminated within one to two applications of a reasonable amount of DE applied to their ant hill. With one generous application right on top of an ant pile in our driveway, I never saw them the rest of the summer. Ants in trash cans can be controlled by either painting DE around the bottom of the trash can or sprinkling the dry DE around it. Apply DE around the house foundation keeps new crawling insects from coming inside. I also line the windows in our home and around the garage floor with DE using a refillable mustard bottle. It works great!
We mix food grade diatomaceous earth with water to paint our fruit tree trunks with it, like a white wash. The DE keeps ants and earwigs OFF our fruit trees. It also helps to wrap the trunk after you paint it with DE. One cup applied to ½ gallon of water works well. Be sure to stir frequently as the DE settles to the bottom. DE is good as a white wash for wood fencing too. When building a home, you can apply DE all around the foundation and in the home before it is finished. It is also great for summer homes or cabins, use inside (bedrooms, bathrooms and pantry’s) and outside to keep bugs from coming in. Use in storage units to keep bugs off furniture, appliances, clothes etc..
1 to 2 cups per gallon of water can be used to apply diatomaceous earth and a little soap in a backpack or hose end sprayer for problem infestations of mites, aphids, fungus problems, etc. I like to use a potassium based soap to make an organic insecticide. This helps the DE stay suspended in the water and also stick to the foliage.
To kill codling moth on fruit trees and keep infestations down, I like to mix 2 1/2 gallons of water, 2 Cups DE and 1/2 Cup of potassium based soap. You have to experiment with what types of nozzles to use, some flow better than others. Again, it is a good idea to stir the mixture frequently to keep DE from settling to the bottom.
Food grade diatomaceous earth will not destroy earthworms, if applied to the top of the soil in worm farms and the worms are allowed to work it into the soil on their own. It is actually beneficial to the worms and compost just make sure to allow the worms to do the work and not bury them in it.
DE has trace minerals that are good for the soil, such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, copper, zinc iron, phosphorous, selenium, etc. It is also good to break up hard soil and keep it aerated and clump free. Just sprinkle DE where you have harder clay soil and till it in! Use your best judgement to how much is needed, depending on how hard the soil is.
*Caution: Do not inhale, while dusting large areas, it would be wise to wear a mask.
Outdoor insects affected by food grade DE:
Ants, fire ants, caterpillars, cut worms, army worms, fleas, ticks, cockroaches, snails, spiders, termites, scorpions, silver fish, lice, mites, flies, centipedes, earwigs, slugs, aphids, Japanese beetles (grub stage), fruit flies, corn ear worm, cucumber beetles, corn borer, sting bugs, squash vine borers, thrips, loopers, ants, etc., etc.
Here are a few tips on how to use food grade DE in the garden and home:
DE Tip #1: On Vegetables
Apply food grade DE as a liquid or a dust. Mix DE, some water and a little potassium based soap, you have a very effective insecticidal soap. A good ratio if you want to transfer it into a hand-held trigger spray bottle is 1 gallon water, 4 heaping Tablespoons of DE and a little soap. Shake and then pour into the smaller bottle. Avoid blossoms (so bee’s won’t get in it) and only spray when insects are most active, like evenings and early morning. If you use soap with DE, rinse vegetables before eating. DE by itself is safe to ingest.
DE Tip #2: Potting, Garden and Lawn Soil
Add food grade DE to your potting soil and in your garden to break up hard clay and aerate the soil. This also adds trace minerals and allows more oxygen to enter the plants. DE can be used to condition, help fertilize and keep soil clump free. Each particle of DE holds three times it weight in water, leaving the soil moist within the ground which means less watering. Using a hose attachment sprayer, you can also spray your lawn for bugs and condition the soil. Measure about 1 cup of DE and pour into spray reservoir with a little soap. Shake sprayer until well mixed and then dispense the solution at the rate of 1-2 ounces per 500 square feet.
DE Tip #3: Ants
Food grade DE is wonderful for getting rid of ants! Usually one heaping application on an ant pile will eliminate them. Watch out for strays that relocate and start another mound. Apply with a wire colander or flour sifter and dump 2-3 cups right on the ants or their mound.
DE Tip #4: Snails
Build a half inch barrier of food grade DE around your garden or landscape plants. When the snails go over the barrier, they will eventually dehydrate. The more plump they are, the longer it take for them to dehydrate…so don’t get frustrated if it takes a couple days for the plump ones. Slimy snails and slugs do not like crawling across dry scratchy powder so it acts as a good repellent too. (That goes for all bugs!)
DE Tip #5: Tree Borers
I love making a paste out of food grade DE to paint my fruit tree trunks. This ratio mixture is up to you and how many trees you have. I mix about half DE and half water with a little soap to paint the trees. Sometimes I wrap the trees in addition. Follow the schedule in your area for when these pests are most active and apply during those times. Applying at night and early morning helps avoid beneficial bugs.
DE Tip #6: Bag Worms
Using a hose attachment sprayer, mix 1/2 of the jar (whatever the size is) with DE and 2-3 Tablespoons per gallon of liquid soap, (potassium based) and the rest with water. Shake it up and spray the foliage of trees and shrubs. As mentioned in tip #5, follow the schedule in your area for when these pests are most active and apply during those times. Applying at night and early morning helps avoid beneficial bugs.
DE Tip #7: Roaches
Dusting the attic is very effective in keeping roaches from getting into the house. Dust your crawl space, remove switch plates and “puff” some DE inside (using a plastic bottle). Use under and around appliances, under the sink cupboard and around pipes. One of my clients reported her personal experience with roaches. She said a little powdered sugar will draw the roaches to the DE and they roll all over in it! She had tried chemicals with no success but with the DE she finally got rid of them.
DE Tip #8: Spiders
Apply around foundations, in window wells, in and around garages or anywhere you notice very many. A barrier around the house will help keep them from coming inside. If they do walk through the DE they will die.
DE Tip #9: Fleas
On pet bedding and even right on the pet (in small amounts). Many people have been very happy with the results. Tests conducted at the University of Florida’s entomology department have shown that DE is useful on controlling adult fleas, but will not control the larva stage of this insect so I recommend using DE in addition to regular nematode control for your pets. Go to the livestock page to read about benefits for chickens, horses, sheep etc.
DE Tip #10: Bed Bugs
Apply to bed mattresses and bed frames. Wait about 12 to 48 hours and then brush the DE off before using again.
After using food grade DE on a regular basis, I have learned that it is a very effective form of organic pest control. For larger bugs, it takes longer to kill but they definitely die! I caught a very large wolf spider in our garage after she had crawled through some DE. I put her in a jar with holes in the lid to see how long it would take to kill her. (She was enormous by the way…bigger than any black widow I had seen.) It took two days to kill her but there she was, upside down in the jar and dead! I have also killed two black widows in our garage using food grade DE. Other bugs I have tested have been wasps at 2-6 hours, and earwigs at 1 to 24 hours. I killed the squash bugs in the garden within the day. I have heard of fleas being killed instantly and other small bugs. A good rule of thumb is to give insects 48-72 hours to die if you have an infestation.
I prefer using food grade DE over chemical pesticides because it repels insects and keeps them from ever reaching an infestation. The DE stays where I put it and I do not have to spray directly on the insect. I know if they cross the line…they will die. Insects and parasites cannot build an immunity to DE!
Application Tools for DE:
1. Plastic refill bottles ~ I use a mustard/ketchup refill bottle with a pointed nozzle. It works great in sidewalk cracks, cupboards, around appliances, under the sink and along baseboards. Spiders will come crawling out of nowhere to get out of it!
2. Hose-end sprayer ~ you can get these at any nursery or garden supply store. Use for lawns and trees and around the foundation or fence.
3. Hand held plant duster ~ great for gardens and corn. Make sure to wear a mask when doing a heavy dusting. The earwigs ran for their life when I used mine in the corn.
4. Colander or four sifter ~ I use these for ant piles, to sprinkle in my chicken coop, chicken feed and dust baths. They are also great tools for the garden if I want to apply DE as a dust.
5. Hand held liquid spray bottle ~ great for small landscape jobs. Use in garden, flower beds, and on vegetables.
6. Tractor mounted sprayer unit ~ for orchards, parks, farms and anywhere with acreage. If you are able to use an electrostatic eight-row sprayer with this the DE sticks to the target really well!
7. Backpack unit ~ A demonstration was done by the Natural Food and Farming Farm in Atlanta and Texas. Bugs usually removed by hand (potato bugs) were on the ground in 20 minutes using DE in one of these backpacks. They are gasoline-driven units that weigh about 22 lbs and have a lot of pressure. Backpack units will spray about 30 feet. If you have more than 5 acres you might want to use a larger sprayer.
8. Electrostatic sprayer ~ These kind of sprayers are the most effective way to apply any spray because of the charge they give. The spray sticks to whatever you are spraying, the liquid can actually turn in mid air to go back to the object being sprayed, kind of like a magnet! Electrostatic units can be operated from a tractor battery, a 12 volt lantern battery, a backpack battery, electric or gasoline power, ground rig blower or crop duster plane.