Diatomaceous earth, also known as DE and fossil shell flour, is a chalklike material composed of the fossilised remains of single-celled algae-like plants called diatoms, which is where the name "diatomaceous" comes from. Don't confuse natural (food-grade) DE with pool-grade DE, which has been heat-treated, creating crystalline silica that are not safe to breathe.
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To mammals, DE feels like a powder, but for insects it's a dangerous desiccant that dries the outer waxy exoskeleton. Its sharp edges also cut the exoskeleton, making internal fluid bleed out. DE therefore provides two mechanisms for drying out a bug, yet is safe to use around pets and children.
Apply DE to pet and farm animal coats to kill fleas and flies. Bedding and carpeting should also be dusted thoroughly. Vacuum it up after two to three days. Don't dust the carpet heavily or your vacuum could get clogged. Because fleas lay so many larvae, you'll need to apply the DE twice a week for three weeks to kill off each new hatching.
Incorporate a few pinches into your pet's daily diet to kill off parasites in the GI tract. Several zoos have done this, including the Brookfield Zoos of Chicago; the zoo in Buffalo, New York; and the Whispering Winds Animal Sanctuary in Riverside, California. Note that this is not effective against heartworms, which do not generally reside in the GI tract.
You can protect stored grain from pests with DE. The DE can be separated from the grain later on easily enough, but need not be, since it is edible. According to Dirt Works, an adequate ratio is 1 cup of DE for every 22.7kg. of grain. This translates into 0.454kg. of DE for every 136kg. of grain.
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