Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Pest Control Advice: Diatomaceous Earth Eliminates Crawling Bugs

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Diatomaceous Earth 12oz Shaker

I live in a basement apartment in New York, so bugs are always a bit of a problem. Nothing major, but always present. Seasonally we would get cockroaches. Probably about a dozen or so a year, sometimes more. Every summer we'd battle ants. We had a long standing low-level flour beetle presence thanks to a local supermarket that sold infested rice. Every year I'd try different insecticides and sometimes they'd work for awhile, sometimes they wouldn't. Even when they did, within a few weeks more insects would come back. The ants were the most persistent. Every summer they'd find a way in and spraying sometimes didn't work at all, sometimes it would work for days to a couple of weeks, but never more than that. We also hated the smell of the insecticide.

The other problem with insecticides is the fact that insects evolve to be immune to them pretty fast, so last year's bug spray that worked moderately well now won't work at all.

Then one year my apartment building had a bed bug scare. Bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of and everyone in our building panicked. Lots of money was spent to treat a large area of the building near the one apartment that definitely had them. During that time I spent some time talking to exterminators and one of them put us onto a product that is safe and effective: Diatomaceous Earth.

Here is a description from

D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) is a non-toxic, safe substance made up from fossils of freshwater organisms and crushed to a fine powder. The powder particles resemble bits of broken glass when observed thru a microscope. Deadly to any insect or larvae, D.E. scratches the insect's waxy outer shell causing death by dehydration. D.E is completely harmless to all animals, fish, birds or in food. This makes D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) an excellent natural topical dusting powder for animals with fleas, ticks, lice and other external pests. D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth) can also be used as a oral nutritional supplement in feed or fed straight during parasite season for animals with skin and coat needs associated with internal parasites.

Diatomaceous Earth 12oz Shaker

Determined not to get bed bugs, we got some diatomaceous earth and, honestly, I got carried away and spread it all over the apartment, particularly right along the edges of every room where the wall meets the floor. I spread it liberally and let it stay for a bit, then swept it into the crevices along the walls, and finally vacuumed up the rest. The stuff takes some time to vacuum up. After a thorough vacuuming a lot would get up in the air and then resettle, requiring more vacuuming. It took a few days before it was mostly gone, though it got into the cracks along the walls, so it will stay there killing bugs for some time.

Before using the diatomaceous earth we had our usual ant problem, our long-standing flour beetle problem, and occasional cockroaches. A typical NYC summer in a basement apartment.

The day after I spread diatomaceous earth as a preventative to keep out bed bugs all the ants and cockroaches disappeared. They stayed gone for about a year and then we started getting them back. I spread diatomaceous earth again and they disappeared again. The stuff works! The flour beetles were more persistent. They mostly went away but we would see occasional survivors for months after. Even now we occasionally see one. But their numbers were greatly reduced and they were almost eliminated.

And the best part is the stuff is non-toxic and insects don't develop a resistance to it, so it will keep working year after year!

Click here to buy diatomaceous earth. It really does work so much better than insecticides. I have heard with really bad infestations (e.g. a serious bed bug infestation) it helps prevent spreading of the infestation and helps limit it, but you still need to call in an exterminator. But for our purposes the diatomaceous earth alone works well. Give it a try!

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  1. Diatomaceous earth is mined, milled, and processed into a myriad of types for a large variety of uses.

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  2. In the last 10 years, there has been a tremendous resurgence of bed bugs. This has been due to the discontinuance of chemicals such as DDT and malathion from the marketplace, that were extremely effective in eliminating bed bugs within the United States. More importantly, there has been a surge in international travel. Bed bugs have been entering the country, piggybacking our high-end executive travelers, in their suitcases, as well as in the furniture of frequent movers.
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  3. Hope with this diatomaceous earth bugs will be gone for good.

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