Farmers and gardeners today are aware of the environmental benefits of using organic products like diatomaceous earth (DE).
Diatomaceous earth has been known since antiquity as a natural pesticide as well as for its many health-giving properties .
The widespread use of chemical pesticides and fungicides is harmful to bees and other essential pollinators. As a result, public awareness has emphasized the need to return to the use of organic methods.
Here’s how to use diatomaceous earth in the garden for pest control and more.
1. All-Round Natural Pesticide
The most important benefit of DE is as a general non-toxic pesticide. This white powdery substance consists of crushed fossilized shells of diatoms.
It works against many insect pests. It dehydrates and kills those that come in contact with it.
Apart from those listed below, insects and related pests that diatomaceous earth kills include:
- Leaf miners
- Chinch bugs
- Squash bugs
- Scales on plants
- Boxelder bugs
- Harlequin bugs
- Pill bugs
- Sow bugs
- Leaf-footed bugs
- Bed bugs
- Kissing bugs
- Bad garden worms
However, DE will not affect bees and other pollinating insects if used wisely . Also, earthworms that nourish the soil are unaffected.
2. Keeps Away Maggots
A compost heap in the garden is a joy to gardeners for the many uses derived from the rich organic mix of garden/household waste. It is invaluable in enriching garden soil and preserving moisture in hot weather.
The downside of the compost heap is that it may harbor many unwanted maggots and other creatures.
However, a little diatomaceous earth added to the mix can rid the compost of maggots and unhelpful insects. The product will cut up their soft bodies, killing them.
3. Deters Slugs
Spreading a layer of DE outdoors, around ornamental plants and vegetables will deter these harmful creatures.
Those that attempt to cross over the barrier will meet with this abrasive powder. As a result, the sharp silicone edges will cut into their soft bodies, causing fluid loss.
DE particles entering their bodies results in further dehydration which kills the slugs.
4. Ant Control
Although most ants have a useful role to play in the vegetable garden, swarms are a nuisance. Ant hills damage lawns and red fire ants can bite or sting. However, dusting with DE will destroy ant nests and trails.
Adding diatomaceous earth in potting soil and around garden beds will help keep ants off plants. Additionally, sprinkling it around the house will help prevent them from entering your home.
5. Repels Flies
Flies, especially tiny blackflies, can be a menace in the garden and yard. House flies are also nuisance pests.
DE will kill flies. It deals with this problem by dehydrating them as they absorb the powder. Thus, sprinkle it on and around plants and surfaces where flies crawl.
6. Eliminates Aphids
Aphids feed on the sap in plants causing them to wilt. They can also cause stunted growth and other damage to plants.
Coating affected plants with diatomaceous earth spray will help with aphids.
7. Gnat Control
There are several types of gnats. Each group gathers and swarms in ‘clouds’ around moist areas and rotting fruits and vegetables.
Some bite, some don’t. However, you can consider all a nuisance, especially as they often migrate into the house and onto houseplants.
Dusting DE over the topsoil of potted plants will kill fungus gnat larvae. It will also prevent or limit re-infestation.
Furthermore, you can make a diatomaceous earth foliar spray to repel the adults. The recipe is below.
8. Ticks and Fleas
As every pet owner knows that fleas and ticks are a constant problem. The more so as these parasites become resistant to certain treatments.
These bloodsucking pests pose many serious health problems. Moreover, they can attach themselves to humans as well as pets and farm animals.
Thick shrubbery, tall grass, and piles of yard clutter harbor these critters.
However, dusting your pet’s fur with DE can kill fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Additionally, feeding dogs and cats with diatomaceous earth will destroy worms internally.
9. Get Rid of Wasps and Hornets
These insects have an eco-friendly role in the garden, but large numbers can become a nuisance.
Their stings are especially troublesome to children and pets as well as the gardener at work.
DE applied near swarms will deter and even kill wasps and hornets that come in contact with it. They may also take the powder back to their nests.
10. Vermin Deterrent
Rodents like mice and rats can do much damage in the garden. Moles are notorious for digging tunnels in lawns. Besides, rabbits will eat through the nurtured vegetable patch in no time.
Catching them may be difficult and trapping distasteful to some gardeners. However, the diatomaceous powder can do the job effectively by deterring them.
Some gardening experts suggest adding strongly smelling oils like peppermint or lemon that DE can easily absorb. This should further discourage vermin.
11. Good for Pot and Greenhouse Plants
Diatomaceous earth is a porous substance. When added to fertilizer and soil, it can help aerate the soil and nourish plants. It is also beneficial here in improving drainage.
Flower gardens are delightfully fragrant places. However, all gardens have some smelly corners that need attention.
Spray DE around the compost heap and trash cans. You can also use it at the favorite toilet patch for household pets to deodorize these areas.
13. Preserves Flowers
A dusting of DE has another use in saving short-lived spring/summer flowers. It helps by drying and preserving them.
How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth in the Garden
One of the greatest benefits of using diatomaceous earth for plants is that the product is non-toxic.
It works just as well as Sevin for pest control — only non-toxic and safer. But, still take precautions when mixing, spreading, or spraying.
Below are some tips on how to apply diatomaceous earth to plants.
- A face mask is advisable as DE can irritate your lungs if inhaled. Also, keep children and pets away from the substance when making an application.
- Sprinkle it on the soil around potted plants, garden beds, or grass to destroy eggs and larvae.
- You can also put DE directly on plants. However, avoid putting it near flowers where pollinators might land.
- Further applications in the spring will kill off many of the emerging larvae. Kill the remaining adults as well by puffing the powder onto them.
Alternatively, you can mix diatomaceous earth with water and spray it.
DIY diatomaceous earth spray recipes vary, but a general guide is to use 4 tablespoons for every gallon of water. Shake well and spray plants and pests.
Where to Buy
You can buy garden diatomaceous earth (insect dust) online or at your local gardening center.
However, purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth if the purpose is for spraying leafy vegetables or for applying indoors.
Diatomaceous earth is one age-old natural remedy against pests and bugs. It is most effective against pests that crawl over it. Start using it in your garden!
What is meant by “bad garden worms”?
Worms that damage plants. Cutworms, wireworms, armyworms, earworms, etc.
Is it safe around dogs
Yes, it is.
Is it safe around dogs
Will it kill Asian jumping worms?
Yes, you can give it a try. Abrasive materials such as biochar and DE may kill them.