How to Use Diatomaceous Earth Against Pests

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth Against Pests

Among the ecological options, we have to protect our plants from different pests is diatomaceous earth or diatomite, as it is also known.

A completely harmless compound for plants, animals, and humans but that offers advantages to combat insects such as aphids.

Its applications are several, and not only limited to agriculture, since it can also be used against lice and other similar insects in animals (such as chickens).

What is diatomaceous earth or diatomite?

Diatomaceous earth comes from a sedimentary rock rich in silicon. It is formed by the union of fossil remains from tiny algae (unicellular type), which have formed a larger structure known as diatomite.

Precisely, these fossil remains attached to silica rock have their particularities and benefits in use against insects and plant protection.

Diatomaceous earth composition

Sedimentary rocks are formed by the accumulation of debris or, as its name says, sediments. Over the years and by pressure, they form larger structures.

In this case, the silica sand fragments in combination with fossils of this type of unicellular algae that circulate freely through the stream of rivers form this type of sand known as diatomite.

Due to its granulometry, it has wide functionalities that not only end in agriculture. It is used in chemistry as a powerful filter, such as activated carbon, to remove unwanted minerals and heavy metals.

The origin of the word diatom It is based on the name of this group of unicellular algae that form the most common phytoplankton — a very large group consisting of more than 20,000 species.

Looking at the microscope, this material consists of microscopic particles, intricate and of a fairly regular size. They often carry with them in the form of complexes, micronutrients, and other minerals that can be applied as fertilizer in agriculture.

Due to the shape of its particles, when applied in foliar spray on the leaves of plants and insects feed on them, it causes lesions in the digestive tract due to silica particles.

Properties of diatomaceous earth

We will see each of the applications that can be given, from the physical and chemical point of view, of the diatomite.

Use as an ecological insecticide

Due to the growing concern for organic agriculture and production without waste, these products come into play, harmless to humans and animals, but which help in the development and advancement of chewing insects and digesters of leaves.

Any insect that sucks or feeds on the leaves of any crop is susceptible to being affected when the diatomaceous earth has been previously applied to it.

This is because, chemically, the silicon structures of diatomaceous earth are pointed and cause damage to the living tissue of insects when ingested accidentally.

Therefore, the elimination of the plague is done by contact, when ingesting any part of the plant and dragging silicon debris from the diatomite.

Dose to be used

Its application is recommended by sprinkling on the soil or the crop, or application diluted in 1% water and sprayed on the plants. It offers a good mix and can be combined with other insecticidal and nutritional treatments.

In addition, it has no safety period, and the application can be repeated as many times as necessary to eliminate the pest.

Deworm animals

Another interesting function for those who take care of animals such as chickens, which are usually affected by fleas in pen, is to use diatomaceous earth.

The known external parasites of birds can be formed by different species of arthropods, which especially attack the hens.

We talk about the following insects and parasites:

Group of arachnids

  • Soft body ticks (Argasidae)
  • Legged mange (Knemidocoptes muta)
  • Redbird mite (Dermanyssus gallina)

Other insects

  • Chicken lice (suborder Mallophaga)
  • Feather fly (Hippoboscidae)
  • Phlebotomes and phlebotomies (Flebotominae)
  • Black bed beetle (Alphitobius diapering)
  • Sandfly
  • Mosquitoes (Culicidae)
  • Black fly (Simuliidae )
  • Bedbugs (Cimex lectularius)

Faced with the use of phytosanitary products that act by inhalation or ingestion (but are toxic to birds) is the use of micronized diatomaceous earth.

In foliar application, the small particle size is introduced between the segments of the body of the insect, that when it produces the movement, it sticks and produces injuries. On the other hand, the effect of diatomite silicon has drying power, causing dehydration and drying of the cuticle in the insect.

Diatomaceous earth is widely used to combat chicken lice and deworming, especially in organic farming conditions, where other active materials (more effective but also much more polluting) cannot be used.

Diatomite can be used against fleas, ticks and other parasitic organisms that usually live with these birds.

Use for parasite control

Micronized diatomaceous earth can be applied with sprinklers or together with water (concentration of 2) to all parts of the poultry house or cabin.

As a dewormer, I am using a 0.1% dose (1 kg per 1000 liters of water), in the bird’s drinking fountain.

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