Fossils for the Win Against Bugs

Spring in Australia, and that, apparently, means bugs.  We suddenly find ourselves sharing our small flat with an assortment of spiders, ants and other crawly freeloaders. 

To some that means time to pull out the poisons, but with so many cancers linked to pesticide usage, I’ll pass on any toxin cocktails.  Does that mean that we have to seal up our cereals and shake out our shoes?  Not at all…we have a secret weapon.

Diatomaceous earth, also known as DE, is a highly effective, economical and easy way to control anything with an exoskeleton.  Made of crushed diatoms, a fossilized, hard shelled algae, I have personally used DE for years and it’s always worked for me.  Used for years by agricultural industries for pest control, DE has some distinct advantages over chemical treatments. 

One of the main advantages is that insects cannot become immune to the effects of DE.  DE is a mechanical insecticide.  Essentially the crushed diatoms form microscopic shards that scrape away an insects’ protective coating, causing them to dehydrate.  You can’t become immune to knives, and insects have no way to build up a resistance to DE.

Another advantage is the cost.  Relatively inexpensive, I just bought 5 kg (or 11 pounds) for $40.  That 5 kg will last me for years, and I’ll wind up sharing it out.  Absolutely safe, I never have to worry about accidental spills or ingestion by pets or children.  In fact, DE is often taken internally by both people and animals to kill internal parasites. 

With DE proven to be ecological, economical, effective and easy to use I simply can’t understand why it’s such a secret, perhaps the pesticide industry doesn’t really have our best interests at heart.  That being said, I hope more people will look into DE as a pest control option.

Hints for Using Diatomaceous Earth:

  • There are different grades of DE.  Never use the DE sold at pool stores for filtration purposes, it will not work.  Food grade is what I’ve seen most common, and is 100% safe and non toxic to use.
  • DE works best dry, so I sprinkle a dust of it in cracks, under appliances, and in the back of cabinets, all places the insects I’m after like to go.  DE will also work on snails and slugs, it’s not as effective in moisture.  Slugs and snails are both deterred with used coffee grounds (next week’s post).
  • Don’t breathe the dust.  While not toxic, any dust can aggravate eyes and lungs.  As I’ve said, I’ve used DE for years with no issues, and I’ve never worn any protective equipment. 
  • Make sure you’re getting pure DE.  I have always ordered my DE online.  When I’ve found it in hardware stores it has typically been mixed with pesticides.
  • I’ve used DE against black widows, ants, fleas, flies, cockroaches and a major chicken mite infestation effectively. 

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. Her latest novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. Currently, she publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit or
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