Thursday, August 25, 2011

Using diatomaceous earth for organic pest management

Diatomaceous earth or DE is a fine powder comprised mostly of silica that can help control some of the unwanted pests in your garden.

It is an organic solution that works because it is abrasive to the insects and causes them to dehydrate and die. Yesterday our neighbors noticed some ants trailing to their house so I pulled out the DE and got to work.

Ready to apply DE
As you can see I choose to wear long gloves and a particle mask while applying DE to the garden. It is a really fine powder that I would rather not have on my skin and the mask is because I don't want to inhale the fine powder. DE is completely organic.

I use a mesh screen to apply it to cracks, crevices, and active ant trails
Applying DE where the neighbors were seeing ants
I also applied some around our own garden
Once DE gets wet it is no longer effective go it's a good idea to apply it where it isn't likely to get wet. Ants aren't always a problem in the garden but they can be when they start farming aphids and other bugs on your plants. The aphids suck sap out of your plants and then release an excretion that is irresistible to ants. Ants will protect the aphids from predators so to manage aphids, you may have to manage ants.

DE also works as a deterrent for snails, slugs, leaf hoppers and earwigs. It can be applied directly on the plant that is affected as well. In the case of leaf hoppers, this may be the best way to go. 

"Wake me up when you start talking about rabbits."

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