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Monday, May 14, 2018

Homesteader Tip

We have insect problems here like most areas but our problems are usually ants. I let the dogs out to go potty and right by where they walk were swarming red ants. We don't use toxic sprays except when we have to deal with a spider that we can't handle, otherwise we do keep a can of spider spray on hand. We haven't used 10% of the can over the several years we have had it.

Yesterday I noted red ants on the hummingbird feeder and quickly found out they are ferocious biters. I grabbed the spider spray and sprayed the glob of red ants. As soon as I got the dogs back in the house I ran for the diatomaceous earth also known as DE. It is so fine that it floats in the air and is finer that talcum powder. The ants were all over the ground and I sprinkled it on the area's they were running around on and 30 minutes later they had disappeared.

I took a bucket of water out and washed away the spray I first used as it had done its job and I didn't want traces of it around. DE is microscopic diatoms that individually are so light that they float in the air but are devastating for hard shelled insects. The insect is positively charged and DE is negatively charged and the DE adhere's to the insect. The dead diatom is a hollow sphere that has sharp edges and those sharp edges lacerate the insect and they dehydrate and die.

We bought our DE from Wolf Creek Ranch many years ago. We bought a 6# bag and probably still have half of it left. A little goes a long way and we bought the food grade DE so if it got in animals system that it would not harm them. It can be given to dogs to kill intestinal parasites safely and also can be used in humans but to hard shelled insects like ants it is deadly. I have moved large colonies of ants with it.

We used it in the house one time and it is so light we were vacuuming it up for weeks. It floats through the air and gets into every nook and cranny and takes a long time to remove. Another reason to get the food grade type so if breathed in it is not harmful. When sprinkled around hard shelled insects you can see it attach to them. Within a half hour or a little more they will disappear to get away from it. DE is highly effective against insects.

Care should be exercised to not get it in your eyes as it could irritate them. I have asthma and I avoid breathing it even though non toxic. I don't want to take a chance it could irritate my lungs. If it is windy I use a face mask and eye protection. 


Linda said...

please make sure that you wear a mask when using this. if inhaled, those little sharp critter skeletons will cut up lungs as well.

Michael vasquez said...

Thank you so much for the advise. Hope this works on the carpenter ants I have

Bruce said...

Michael: We get carpenter ants also and it works on ours. Sprinkle it right on them if possible. If they are in wood then you have to apply it several times over several days.