Technology Spotlight on Diatomaceous Earth

In this article it is discussed how diatomaceous earth (DE) has been used an insecticide for centuries.  And how many pest control companies are using diatomaceous earth to help control insects in structural settings.  Diatomaceous earth is a desiccant and it removes the waxy outer coating of the insect’s exoskeleton.  This process makes it impossible for the insect to retain water and they eventually dehydrate, which ultimately leads to death.


Diatomaceous earth is comprised of millions of tiny, single-celled organisms called diatoms.  These diatoms lived prehistorically in ancient lakebeds and when they would die, they would fall to the bottom of the lakebed and would accumulate.  This accumulation over time created a sediment that is now what we know as diatomaceous earth.


The article goes on to explain the difference between the two types of diatoms – freshwater vs. marine.  Typically speaking, most freshwater diatoms are still intact and are also able to withstand the processing that takes place.  Marine diatoms, however, are usually broken and void of interior space which is crucial to the diatom’s effectiveness as a desiccant.  Also, freshwater diatoms are normally more uniform in shape whereas marine diatoms are more diverse in their size and structure.  Marine diatoms typically contain more crystalline silica as well.


Freshwater diatoms have, commercially speaking, been traditionally the favorite type for controlling insects.  One hypothesis is “with their interior and exterior surfaces, (they) have a greater electrostatic attraction to insects, and are more likely to cling to the insect..”  Also, the better the oil absorption capacity of the DE, the more effective it will be as an insecticide, which is typically the case with the freshwater variety.


DE is a great choice for those needing to control insect and are wary of using a product that contains chemical or synthetic ingredients.  It is an inert material with very low toxicity.  It is a very stable product and as long as the DE is dry, it will continue working as an insecticide.  Insects have yet to build up a resistance to DE as it breaks down the insect structurally, rather than killing them with additives or chemicals.  It is the perfect product to use in cracks and crevices and for controlling those types of insects that need a continuous water source to survive.


Click the link below to read the Technology Spotlight on Diatomaceous Earth.

PTC DE Insecticide Article

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