Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Non-Toxic Insecticide: Diatomaceous Earth - Natural and Traditional


In North America in particular, the fear and actual infestation of bedbugs is making a huge impact on human lives, property, and the environment. With their high resistance, current conventional treatments seem to only include the most devastating and toxic substances, or complete demolition of some rooms or buildings. Bedbugs and other pests have plagued us for thousands of years, and one of the natural traditional remedies for tiny hard body insects is something that is just as effective today as it was then.

Diatomaceous Earth is a completely natural mined clay that contains the fossilized bodies of microscopic former marine residents known as diatoms.  Under an electron scanning microscope, they look alot like pollens, with their spiky little arms coming out all over the place, but as fossil skeletons, they are harder and the spines pierce the bugs. DE works on the micron level but it doesn't work on creatures on a more macro scale. Bedbugs are about the biggest.  It's a mechanical action, puncturing their exoskeletons which dehydrates and kills them, so they can't develop an immunity to it. It also works for other hardbody parasites like fleas, ticks, earmites, ants, cockroaches...

DE is one of the safe, natural, non-toxic and traditional remedies for bedbugs and other hardbodies. It is an actual dust that has to touch the exoskeletons of the bugs in order to work. The DE can be dusted on skin or fur for external use or sprinkled in corners, on bed linen, or anywhere beasties are hiding. You can leave it on floors, in mattresses, and other bedbuggy living zones to ensure they don't take up residence.  It works great for pets, too!  Rub a little in their ears for earmites, their fur for fleas with some in their bedding.  However, like any fine dust, you, your family and pets shouldn't breathe it in, so keep that in mind when placing or using it.

If you think you need to use the DE for internal parasites, and there are a few, I've experimented with ingestion. Capsules seem to work fine, since you can fill them yourself. I've also used the traditional method of moulding wet nutritive clay into cakes and then drying for easy eating.

Bedbugs are particularly virulent, but as well as DE there were some solutions in even classical and medieval times to get rid of them. Otherwise, they would have been overrun. Some additional suggestions are Four Thieves Vinegar to repel them, sunlight and extreme cold to kill the adults, and borax and hot water added to all your laundry and washing, which kills the eggs.

Diatomaceous Earth is just one of the wonderful appropriate and traditional technologies that is being re-discovered and making a much deserved comeback.  Why not try safe, natural, inexpensive and non-toxic first?  If you aren't happy with the results, you can always call the exterminator and dose the place with chemical pesticides later...

UPDATE: Another natural remedy for bedbugs just proven by scientists.