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Diatomaceous Earth Research

What is Diatomaceous Earth?


We have seen many explanations for what Diatomaceous Earth is. But we know that
Diatomaceous Earth (aka D.E.) is basically the deposit of Diatoms which died and settled to the
bottom of seabeds and rivers. These Diatoms formed layers of rock deposits which are mined for
use in everythin from animal feeds to industry.
The !ocky "ountain #ivestock $ournal said% &"illions of years ao% in all the waters of the
earth% microscopic one'celled plants called diatoms took the minerals from the waters and
created protective shells for themselves.( These diatoms photosynthesi)e% combinin oxyen% the
most available element on Earth% and silica% the second most available element on Earth.
(Diatoms once lived in *uantities far beyond the mind+s ability to conceive% and as they died
their shells drifted to the bottom of the seabeds. ,n this manner% vast deposits of diatom shells
were laid down.-
.ational /eoraphic "aa)ine said% &They come from inner space and are essential to life on
this planet. 0inle'celled alae% diatoms by the trillions produce oxyen by photosynthesis%
support the oceanic food chain% and help mankind do a host of industrial chores.- &"ore than
twenty'five thousand species of diatoms% and no shell the same. Each a livin 1ewel.-
Diatoms were discovered in 2345 by a pioneer of "icroscopy% 6nton van #eeuwenhoek. 7e at
first thouht they were tiny animals. ,t was later that scientists concluded that because they
photosynthesi)ed% they were indeed plants and not animals. 0everal years later% /erman
"icroscopist $.D. "ooler% spent 28 years mountin over 9%444 diatom species on a sinle slide.
There is evidence that the :hinese bean addin D.E. to their animal feeds some 8%444 years
ao. ;urther% various countries in Europe have been addin D.E. to the animal feed for many
years now.
There are many variations of D.E. deposits% as we will learn later in this section% consistin of
many different species of diatoms. The diatoms in any iven deposit will ive that deposit certain
characteristics% causin it to reatly differ from other deposits. "any thins contribute to the
*uality of the D.E. as well.

Is D.E. a Safe Product for Animals and Humans?
That all depends on who you ask. To us% it is extremely safe% other than bein dusty. But we use a
special type of D.E. We 1ust simply put on a dust mask when usin it. , have seen some folks say
it will kill chickens if they are allowed to dust themselves in it. The only way that we can aree
with that theory is if the user has chosen to use a D.E. that is not certified as &;ood /rade-%
(:odex(% (;ossil 0hell ;lour(% or (6morphous( and they are usin it in an enclosed area with
poor ventilation. ,f you think about it% doesn<t it make common sense that breathin a naturally
occurrin product that has been cateori)ed as a /roup = substance by ,6!:% would be less
harmful than breathin chemical dust or fumes from a product that is not naturally occurrin> 6
/roup = is (not classifiable as to its carcinoenicity to ? humans.(
Read below what The IPM Practitioner William @uarles said on the subject
It is titled DIAT!MA"E!#S EARTH $!R PEST "!%TR!&
&Both swimmin pool rade and natural diatomaceous earth come from the same fossil sources%
but they are processed differently. The natural rades are mined% dried% round% sifted and
baed. The 'ool (rade is chemicall) treated and 'artiall) melted and conse*uentl)
contains cr)stalline silica which can be a res'irator) ha+ard. Thus% it is imperative that only
natural diatomaceous earth be used for insect control. This non'crystalline silica is not a ha)ard
as the human body apparently can dissolve it.(
&,nestion of diatomaceous earth is not toxic to mammals. !ats fed a daily diet containin 8A
freshwater diatomaceous earth show no abnormalities after B4 days (Bertke 2BC9). Dairy farms
sometimes feed their animals food containin 2 to 5A diatomaceous earth to control worms and
other internal parasites (6llen 2B35).
The ;ood and Dru 6dministration% Department of 7ealth% education and Welfare% sets
&tolerances- on poisonous chemical insecticides because residues of these insecticides are known
to cause cancer and other alarmin physioloical effects when introduced into the bodies of test
animals.
The Department of 6riculture in "ichian said in a letter% &Dur animal patholoist has
examined the vital orans and intestinal components submitted% both macroscopically and
microscopically% and has found no visible evidence of oran abnormalities.
These components consisted of brain% thyroid% rib section% lun% heart% liver% true stomach% small
intestine section% lare intestine section% pancreas% kidney% bladder% and forestomach.
These or(ans were submitted under affida,it as bein( from a slau(htered dair) cow ha,in(
free choice access to fossil shell flour for a''ro-imatel) fi,e )ears.-
The Eniversity of 6rkansas did a study to determine whether the addition of diatomaceous earth
was harmful to chickens. Their conclusion% &It 'osed no threat.-
.hat is a Tolerance?
(6 &tolerance- is the maximum amount of any certain poison% which can leally be found in any
certain foodstuff intended for human consumption.
The amount of poison which can leally appear in any type of foodstuff is established by the
;ood and Dru Division of the Enited 0tates Department of 7ealth% Education% and Welfare by
Bio'6ssay. (0ome states impose even more riid rules)
Tolerance limits vary all the way from &)ero- to many parts per million and are fre*uently
chaned as new information becomes available.
,mpoverished humans add &;ossil ;lour- to their baked oods in order to stretch their flour
supply (:ummins 2B38). ,t is so safe for use on food that the ;D6 has exempted diatomaceous
earth from re*uirements of fixed residue levels when added to stored rain (;ed. !e. 2BC2). The
E.0. EF6 also allows its use in food storae and processin areas (;ed. !e. 2BG2).
The only possible health effect comes from lon'term chronic exposure to *uantities of the
inhaled dust. :urrent maximum E.0. exposure standards are C mHm= of dust containin less
than 2A crystalline silica (Festline 2BB2). "alcined diatomaceous earth poses the reatest
problem. ;or instance% rats showed little reaction when their luns were exposed to 8'G4 m of
naturally occurrin diatomaceous earth% but a stron reaction to diatomaceous earth that had been
calcined (heated to G44 :) (0wensson 2B32).(
They further o on to say% &Marine diatomaceous earth has enou(h cr)stalline silica in it that
minin( can cause health 'roblems. Diatomite from this source may produce a distinct type of
pneumoconiosis% the term applied to any abnormality in the luns resultin from the inhalation of
dust (6brams 2B89).-
.hat About Silicosis?
&0ilicosis refers to lun contamination and irritation by crystalline or free silica (0iD5).
:rystalline describes the orientation of the 0iD5 molecules% which occur in a fixed pattern in
contrast to the nonperiodic% random molecular arranement defined as amorphous. Exposure to
free silica is an occupational ha)ard to workers.-
Ferma'/uard% a refined fraction of diatomaceous earth% is the only insecticide product on the
market which is totally exempted from these tolerance re*uirements. This is true because Ferma'
/uard is an inert mineral dust of natural oriin and contains no 0ynthetic :hemicals whose
residues can find their way into your body to cause cancer and other diseases.
.hat is "r)stalline or $ree Silica?
The E0/0 says% (:rystalline silica is the scientific name for a roup of minerals composed of
silicon and oxyen. The term crystalline refers to the fact that the oxyen and silicon atoms are
arraned in a three'dimensional repeatin pattern.( They o further sayin% (The compound
silica (0iD5 ) is formed from silicon and oxyen atoms. 6 chemical compound is defined as a
distinct and pure substance formed by the union of two or more elements. Because oxyen is the
most abundant element in the Earth<s crust and silicon is the second most abundant% the
formation of silica is *uite common in nature. The silica sand% 1ust mentioned as the substance
used to derive pure silicon% is made of *uart)% which is the most common form of silica found in
nature. 0ilica can also be bioloical in oriin% produced by tiny oranisms. The most sinificant
of these are diatoms (plants) and radiolarians (animals)% both of which extract silica from the
water around them to form their structures or shells. ;or both oranisms% silica is a nutrient they
must have to survive. ,n nature% they use the dissolved silica that oriinates from sedimentary
rocks at the bottom of a lake% river% or ocean. Thus% silica can be found in more than one stateI
amorphous as in the remains from a diatom and crystalline as in a *uart) crystal. Both are 0iD5 %
but they are *uite different physically. What<s more% silica in its crystalline state is found in more
than one form. This phenomenon is called polymorphism (literally (many forms(). 0ilicates
constitute the most abundant class of minerals. /eoloists reard silicate minerals as the basic
materials out of which most rocks are created. We mentioned that the compound silica% which is
formed by the chemical reaction of silicon and oxyen% can be either crystalline or non'
crystalline. Dependin upon the extremes of temperature and pressure it has been sub1ected to or%
in some cases% the speed at which it cooled% a solid can take on different forms. Diatomite%
described earlier% and *uart) are identical chemically (both 0iD5 ) and both are solids at room
temperature% but their physical forms'and their internal structures'are very different.(
(,n a crystalline substance (such as *uart))% the atoms and molecules make up a three'
dimensional repeatin pattern. The pattern unit is repeated indefinitely in three directions%
formin the crystalline structure. This is similar to floor tiles% in which a two'dimensional pattern
unit% say one made of two black tiles and four white tiles% is repeated indefinitely in two
directions. This repeatin pattern can be altered. ,t would be possible to chane the positions of
the two black tiles and four white tiles in relationship to one another and still have a pattern that
could be repeated indefinitely in two directions% but the resultin desin would be different.
#ikewise% the internal structure of the crystal can be chaned and the resultin crystalline
substance would be chaned.(
(.ow% picture the black tiles and white tiles% still in the same relative proportions of two to four%
randomly placed on the floor% formin no pattern whatsoever. 0uch is the structure of a non'
crystalline% or amorphous% substance. 6 diatom is an example of silica in a non'crystalline state.
0ome amorphous materials exhibit short'rane orderin of their atoms. Esin the analoy of the
floor tiles one last time% suppose the two black tiles and four white tiles formed a pattern% and it
was a pattern overned by some sort of rule% but it was not a repeatin pattern. The
distinuishin feature of a crystalline substance is that you can take any portion of it and see the
whole. With a non'repeatin pattern% you can<t do that. 0ome short'rane orderliness may exist%
but no predictable order extends over a lon distance. 0cientists call this state lassy. .ot
surprisinly% window lass% which forms when molten lass is *uenched% is an example of silica
in a lassy state. ,t is not crystalline because it cooled too rapidly for the atoms to arrane
themselves into a lon'rane periodic structure% but it contains short'rane orderin that many
amorphous materials do not possess. /lassy and amorphous materials are considered to be
synonymous by many scientists because both are non'crystalline.(
Define Amor'hous.
6morphous is a term that describes a (solid which is not crystalline( accordin to the :hemistry
Dictionary. "erriam'Webster<s dictionary describes 6morphous as (Without a definite shape or
formJ shapeless.
.hat does D.E. ha,e in it?
Boy that is a loaded *uestion. D.E. differs as much as we do. 7ere is what Wally Tharp the
president of Ferma'/uard said in an 6cres E.0.6. interviewK &There are a reat many deposits in
the Enited 0tates. They vary reatly in ae and *uality of material. 6lso because there are a
number of species of diatoms% each havin its own uni*ue shape and skeletal arranement% there
are a reat many differences in physical forms when viewed under a scannin electronic
microscope. When you examine diatomaceous earth under the electronic microscope you can
readily see these differences and also et an idea of the various impurities and the extent of
skeletal deterioration of the deposit. Thus we find that there are only three deposits that , know
of that are suitable for our purposes. "any of the others are salt water deposits and are of no
value to us.-
The IPM Practioner said% &Whether marine or freshwater fossils are better for insect control
work has been recently debated. ;reshwater fossils met with early commercial success% and are
easier to apply without clumpin or cakin. 6ny diatomaceous earth with a lare oil absorption
capacity% thouh% is a candidate for use as an insecticide. ,deally% it should be a hih purity
amorphous silica of a uniformly small particle si)e% that contains very little clay% and less than
2A crystalline silica.-
,n %atural $ood / $armin( Ma(a+ine% $aynen Lemp :ockrell said thisK &Their exact
composition will vary% dependin on what mineral concentrations are in the waters where they
are formed% ,n eneral% most samples will contain the followin elementsK silicon% sodium% boron%
strontium% vanadium% allium% titanium% aluminum% mananese% manesium% iron% calcium%
copper and )irconium. There can also be trace amounts of lead and arsenic which ma) not
e-ceed 01 ''m if the resultin( D.E. is to be used as a food (rade additi,e.2
,n our simple way of thinkin% this all means that all diatomaceous earth product vary reatly
dependin on if they are freshwater or marine type diatoms. They also vary based on the waters
content where they oriinated. 6nd lastly% they differ in si)e% shape and manner in which they
were treated durin processin.
.hat are the T)'es of D.E.?
0ome D.E. products mix D.E. with pyrethrins to boost its insect killin properties. Dne type that
is proven harmful to animals and humans is $lu-3"alcined D.E. which has been heated to G44
derees and forms "r)stalline or $ree silica. This is the type used in many insecticide rade and
pool rade D.E. products. There are fresh water and salt water types as well. Salt water types
are referred to as marine types. $resh water types are referred to as Amor'hous.
Is There Reall) that much of a Difference in D.E. Products?
Mes there certainly is. This is the area that most critics make their mistake. They will say that
D.E. is danerous% but usually *uote the information from the crystalline form and not even
mention the findins of the non'crystalline form. Because diatoms form in any water and
sometimes even on land% their diversity is unmatched. Due to this% one can find himself or herself
usin a low *uality D.E. or one that can be very harmful to them and their animals.
Because of water currents% most deposits of diatoms can be very impure% some even danerous.
There are over 58%444 varieties of diatoms% havin different si)es and shapes. The mineral
content of the deposits vary a reat deal% as water currents mix all kinds of forein materials%
some% such as 6rsenic% bein danerous or deadly. The shapes of the diatoms are important as
well. 0ome ciar shaped diatoms can actually stick in the luns or orans of the animals causin
ma1or problems. The D.E. we use and recommend consists of cylinder shaped diatoms with a
lattice like shell that looks much like a sieve.
7ardness is also a concern because many if not most D.E. deposits are inferior. "any are softer
and therefore won+t be nearly as effective. Dur D.E.% Ferma'/uard% has a hardness factor of 3 on
a scale that puts a diamond at a B. This hardness factor allows the diatom particle to abrade the
waxy outer coatin or cuticle on an insect+s body and absorb its body moisture% and this same
hardness is what works in the intestine of the animal that consumes it.
Pressure from e-cess earth or roc4 can also cause some de'osits to become free silica and
raise the cr)stalline silica to ha+ardous le,els.
.hat Made us "hoose Perma35uard?
Because we wanted somethin safe to use around the house and on the animals% we knew there
was no option except somethin &;ood /rade.- The only challene we had after that was to
determine which &;ood /rade- product was the best. ;or the answer to this *uestion% we merely
looked at how the manufacturer backed up their product. Ferma'/uard was the only company we
found that backed it up unconditionally. 7ere is their uaranteeK
&Ferma'/uard has a 244A satisfaction uarantee. 6fter =4 days% if the buyer was not totally
satisfied% they are uaranteed an immediate refund in full. Ferma'/uard also carries a N2%444%444
product liability policy that covers both user and distributor.-
Well% we here at the farm use only &;ood /rade- or &:odex- freshwater (6morphous)
diatomaceous earth from Ferma'/uard. Ferma'/uard is the oriinal% oldest% and most
experienced company carryin D.E. ,n 2BC5% Ferma'/uard% with the help of 6ri)ona 0tate
Eniversity% was ranted a patent for the use of D.E. to be added to animal food. Entil the patent
expired% this company held the exclusive riht to sell D.E. for that purpose. West of the
"ississippi% there are over C44 deposits of D.E. The vast ma1orities are useless. ,n fact% the
Ferma'/uard company only knows of four deposits that meet the ;D6 re*uirements to be called
&;ood /rade.- 0o even if it says &;ood /rade- on the packae% that doesn+t mean it is of the
hihest *uality. ,n fact% most are inferior due mostly to impurities or hardness. We personally
checked out all the information about D.E. and after lookin at "aterial 0afety Data 0heets and
readin about 244 publications and documents% Ferma'/uard beat every other D.E. product
hands down.
,nternational 6ricultural #aboratories% ,nc physicist% :arey !eams says in summary% &6ll of the
elements in Ferma'/uard D.E. are so en1oined into either a cheated or colloidal form until they
appear to work in unison with each other rather than as individual elements. Thinkin of them as
individual elements is *uite misleadin. %one of these elements found in 6asic Perma35uard
are considered 'oisonous.-
,n the Roc4) Mountain &i,estoc4 7ournal in $anuaryH;ebruary 2BBC issue% $anet 0ands writesK
&Ferma'/uard insecticides have passed exhaustive tests% many of them under the scrutiny of the
E.0. Dept. Df 6riculture% Lansas 0tate Eniversity% and the ;ood O Dru 6dministration (;D6).
Dver the years these products have scored dramatic successes in protectin stored rain and seed%
rowin crops% homes and industrial plants from insect infestations% without the addition of any
chlorinated oranic phosphates% systemic poisons or chemical compounds commonly found in
almost all commercial insecticides.-
.ith a mone) bac4 (uarantee and a (uarantee a(ainst dama(e8 wh) consider an) other
'roduct?
To this day% there has never been a claim for damaes. Durin my research% the only potential
lawsuit , have seen was after a dairyman tried ;0; with reat satisfaction% then bouht a cheaper
product from a trucker% and had his business destroyed. 0ome of his cows died from arsenic
poisonin% the milk was contaminated and could not be sold. 7e wanted to sue Ferma'/uard
because he did not know who else to sue. 6ll he had was a ticket from a dime store sales book%
with no name% address or phone number. Ferma'/uard ac*uired a sample of the material and was
ama)ed at the amount of arsenic. Df course% he reali)ed there was no claim aainst Ferma'/uard%
took bankruptcy and went out of business.
The sad thin is that the trucker probably had no idea that he was sellin a danerous product.
7e% like many other people% take the attitude that 6## D,6TD"6:EDE0 E6!T7 is the same.
The poor dairyman found out the hard way. The trucker may never have known.
The World 7ealth Drani)ation cautions that D.E. with a crystalline (free) silica content over =A
is danerous for inestion by humans or animals. Ferma'/uard D.E. has less than 2A free silica.
0wimmin pool D.E. ranes from C4A to 34A free silica.
There are very few deposits of D.E. that meet these free silica minimum standards. .ow you
know why% after decidin that D.E. was useful for us% we chose to use Ferma'/uard &:odex-
D.E.
Does D.E. Reall) .or4?
Well% that is a matter of who you ask. 0ome say it doesn<t. But the first *uestion , ask them is%
how lon have you used it> Then , would ask *uestions like% (7ow did you use it>( (What kind
of D.E. did you use>( (Do you know the difference between the types>( ,f you ask us% we say it
does. We have seen many letters from farmers and hobbyist who swear by its use. They claim
everythin from parasite control to lower mortality rates in their animals. 7ere at the farm% our
mortality rate has dropped dramatically. Mou see% we are after results. We don<t really care how
the results come% but more that they come. We have put toether some of the letters and emails
from different people so you can see what other people say about the use of ;ossil 0hell ;lour in
and around their animals.
What are People Saying About D.E.?
I have been actively engaged in training some of the fnest walking horses in the country for
the past 15 years. I take pride in the appearance and health of the horses under my care,
which have won many national awards against stif competition. I am constantly on the alert
for products I feel can improve their health and condition. I am grateful to have found FOSSIL
SHELL FLOUR and here is why: It stopped scours, noticeably reduced fies, increased
appetites, better feed conversion, eliminated internal parasites and created a healthier
appearance. I would defnitely recommend this product to other horseman.
Leslie Shorty Thomas, TrainerL. Frank Roper StablesWinter Garden, Florida.
"We were losing one sheep every three days from the fringe tape worm in the bile duct. We
started feeding the animals Fossil Shell Flour, mixed with salt and cotton seed meal. Within two
weeks, the dying stopped. Since that time we have lost 2 sheep, but not from worms. To say I
am sold on Fossil Shell Flour is a rank understatement. I suggest to anyone, 'JUST TRY IT. IT
DOES NOT COST MUCH!"
Johnnie Firestone.
"D.E. contains 15 trace minerals important to animal diets. D.E. mixes well with all feeds while
guarding against insect damage. Prevents worms and virus epidemics from developing. Saves
albumen, destroys harmful acids, safeguards the stomach. Improves health and growth of
young animals. Causes better digestion, allowing animals to absorb a higher percentage of
protein from its regular diet."
Dr. Phillip Schaible, former head of the Department of Poultry Sciences of Michigan State
University.
"Feeding FSF to my show and race horses, stallions, mares, foals and horses in training, we
have seen improvements in their hair coat and their attitude. Flies and parasites are less of a
problem."
Dan Miller, Capital South Syndicate
"I have used for about 5 days now and my SL Wyandotte is now up of of her hocks and I no
longer give her the Colife. As a matter of fact, after the frst day I quit giving her the Colife
because I could not tell which chick had the problem. It took me about a half hour to really
examine them to fgure out
who had the problem. Thanks so much for everything."
H. in FL.
"My birds are doing great on your supplements."
S. in CA.
"When we saw the miniature horses, they were a pretty sad lot. The amount of lice and other
parasites were overwhelming. After using Perma-Guard, the external parasites, including the
lice, just turned to dust. It was great!
We also have been using the diatomaceous earth for nutrient absorption. This was a major
concern because our horses were so terribly underfed when we purchased them. We are seeing
marvelous results in the rib covering and quality coat already.
Thanks again for introducing us to your products. They will become a permanent part of our
program."
K from AZ
"I wanted to write and express my enthusiasm for Perma-Guard products. We have noticed
many benefts on our farm. We use the Fossil Shell Flour as a feed additive for our birds and
dogs.
We began using it when we had a problem with bufalo gnats biting the birds on the face and
neck. I know of an ostrich that died from gnat bites, and I did not want the same fate. We could
not get rid of them by any chemical means, and then we tried Perma-Guard in the barn, on the
birds, and on the sandy dusting areas where they dust themselves. I was astounded, the very
frst time I used it.
Since we have been using Fossil Shell Flour feed additive for the ostriches, we have noticed
several benefcial efects. One, the stools are consistently good looking, and have less odor. Two,
fies usually lay their eggs in feces, but the feces now contains D.E. and the fies are either not
able to survive landing on the feces, or the fy larvae are not able to escape contact with the
D.E. In our barn areas we are now virtually free of fies, gnats, feas, black fies, love bugs,
mosquitoes, mites, etc.
Thanks for introducing me to such a fne and economical product. My farm will never be free of
Perma-Guard products."
C. from AL
"FSF is given "free choice" to calves at 36 to 48 hours after birth. The calves readily consume it,
even at this young age. In a very few cases, FSF is placed in the mouth so that they acquire a
taste for it. Following this they eat it on their own.
FSF has been used on approximately 2,000 calves, the results have been consistent and
gratifying. The incidence of calf scours has been 99% eliminated. There have been cases of
Diarrhea, but this has been due to the baby calf overeating on milk. No true case of calf scours
as such, has been observed.
The reason for FSF doing such a commendable job of preventing calf scours, Pneumonia and
white muscle disease, is due to the baby being provided with a well balanced complex of
chelated minerals. Dr. Carey Reams, a respected Bio-Physicist held the view that practically all
diseases were caused by a mineral defciency and/or imbalance in the body.
Our experience in our own herd of beef cattle has been that by using FSF we have been able to
stop the use of vaccines and antibiotics.
We also have abandoned the use of herbicides, pesticides and commercial fertilizers. All of the
above practices have accomplished two things in our operation: 1. Healthier cattle; 2. A
fnancial viable enterprise."
Best Regards,
H.D. Johnson DVM
"After reading several articles about the advantages of using D.E., we started what turned out
to be a year long search for a supplier in AZ. We are pleased when we saw your ad and made
our connection.
We are feeding and dusting (feather duster) our 17 dairy goats, 2 llamas, 4 Barbados sheep, a
burro, and a horse. We also dust the barn and pens daily after clean-up. The wet spots in the
pens get a handful of D.E. after raking. Last year the raking turned up a host of fy larvae, this
year there are practically none."
M. in AZ
"I'm so pleased to be able to once again obtain Perma-Guard Diatomaceous Earth.
The horses and dogs are fed D.E. daily. The goats and chickens are free-fed and love it. I also
spread it in their pens.
So good for the eradication of so many nuisance pests-and most importantly, they're safe for
my animals."
M.J. in AZ
"I began feeding the D.E. to all my birds, three pounds to each 50 pound bag, and after six
days use, I can really tell a diference in the fy population. I also spray the chick runs.
I don't know why this product isn't publicized at ratite events. I could have saved a lot of money
and man hours over the years with its use.
Needless to say, I am very pleased with the product and will share the information with other
ranchers."
F. in NM
"Brian conducted fecal test samples to check for parasites after using diatomaceous earth for
several weeks. His tests came out negative. Neither he nor his vet believed it, so they took more
samples from diferent bison, from diferent herds which had been fed diatomaceous earth -
negative. Not only did he solve his parasite problem with a non-toxic, natural product, but he
found that the coats and overall appearance of his bison had improved. Another beneft is that
some diatomaceous earth remains in the manure, preventing the eggs of fies and parasites
from hatching out, thereby, breaking the cycle of re-infestation."
Canadian Bison Association - Lori Wheeler
"In response to your question about possible hazard from including diatomaceous earth in the
ration fed to dairy cattle, I can relate our experiences when it was incorporated as 2 percent of
the total ration fed to cattle. It had no apparent harmful efect and there is no evidence that
any of it is absorbed and no residue appeared in the milk. I trust that this is the information
you desired."
R.P. Link - Professor/Dept Head University of Illinois, College of Veterinary Medicine.
"We bought a carload of grain that was heavily infested and I anticipated a fnancial loss.
However, we mixed it with D.E. as it went into the bin. After a few weeks, we re-cleaned the
grain and found no live insects. The damaged grain was made into chicken feed, leaving us with
a GRADE A grain to sell. Since we bought the load at a heavy discount, we made a good proft.
After that, we deliberately sought out bargains in infested grain, and learned we could make
more money that we could on paying the regular price on clean grain.
After a few months of experimentation, we got completely away from the use of chemicals.
There was no need to subject our customers, or our employees to possible contamination,
especially when the Perma-Guard performed even better then conventional chemicals."
Irv Manley
"My birds are so healthy it is just great. People who do not even know about chickens tell me
what good looking birds I have!"
How .e #se D.E.
We personally use D.E. in the feed of every animal on our place. 6s an anti'cakin aent% which
is how D.E. is sold normally% it coats each particle of feed. ,t is the opinion of many that this
allows more diestive 1uices to come in contact with the food particles% allowin the ut to better
diest the food% resultin in better rowth% and less undiested feed particles to pass. ,t is also
believed by many that the D.E. which passes throuh the animals helps to control the fly
population because when the flies lay their es on the manure% the larvae hatch and are
lacerated by the D.E. This breaks the cycle of the fly. D.E. is also loaded with trace minerals as
well. 7ere is the analysis of the D.E. we use here. Dur chicks et it in their first feeder of feed.
Dur dos et it in their feed weekly. We also put D.E. in the dustin areas for the birds. Dur birds
en1oy a ood dustin with D.E. in the hot weather. Dustin helps to control parasites such as lice%
and we believe D.E. aids in that control since lice are soft'shelled. We also put D.E. in the nest
boxes to help control lice in the nests.
In "onclusion
0ince we have used% ;ossil 0hell ;lour we haven+t seen any of the so'called ha)ards that some
folks claim will stem from D.E. usae. 0ome say that birds are more sensitive to dust than dairy
animals. , think , would aree with that% but that doesn+t mean that Amor'hous $ossil Shell
$lour will cause them to be sick. "any of our birds are 8 years old. "ost have had D.E. for all
their lives% both in dust baths and in their feeds. 0o we think we are *ualified to speak from a
position of at least mediocre knowlede about D.E. Dne of the first thins we learned about D.E.
is there is a hue difference in D.E. products even those listed as &;ood /rade.-
0ome of the same people who critici)e D.E. work in the commercial poultry industry% or for
chemical companies% or have never used it to any deree to see how D.E. will work for them% or
they may have otten inferior product and base their decision on that. Met a ood many of them
say D.E. will cause respiratory problems.
But consider this. What if the birds had a low resistance due to too many meds and repeated
respiratory trouble before usin D.E.> What if the D.E. they used was hiher in free silica than
the D.E. we use> What if the birds housin was poor with damp conditions and crowded> What
if the coop has poor ventilation> What if the birds are carriers for ;oul :ory)a> What if you
brouht a bird in from someone else+s flock that you didn+t *uarantine for several weeks% and it
brouht in somethin with it> What if you showed a bird at a show and it had to stand next to a
sick bird for a weekend> What if that sick bird was a carrier of somethin that you now carry
back to your flock> ,ronically% some of the very same people who critici)e D.E. have sold birds
that are respiratory problem carriers. We know how that is. We have owned some of their birds in
the past too. That is why we are selective where we et birds and advice from.
6ll these *uestions are valid don+t you think> We do% that+s why we decided to look at D.E.
ob1ectively based on our own experience and draw our own conclusions. To break it down% we
looked at and athered all the information we could find on it. We decided we would be the best
1ude of what is proper for our flock and you would too.
Dne other thin to consider% remember when people always said% &if you use D.E.% wait until the
chicks are feathered ood before ivin it to them or you will cause a problem>- , sure do and ,
have said it in the past myself. But a few years ao we decided% after talkin to Wally Tharp at
Ferma'/uard% who has over 94 years experience with D.E.% he told me that we could feed it from
day one. 0o , decided to set up a little experiment. We started ivin D.E. from the day the birds
hatch and you know what> .o harmful effects were seen. ,n fact this year% the birds seem even
better than last year. ,f it were causin internal and respiratory trouble% as some say it will%
wouldn+t you think that the chicks would show it first> 6ren+t they even more susceptible to
toxins> Wouldn+t it take less to kill them than it would to kill adult birds> ,f it were oin to
cause respiratory problems% wouldn+t it cause it in the chicks first> Don+t they have the smallest
respiratory systems>
0o keep these *uestions in mind when you are readin up on and ponderin if D.E. is for you or
not. 6fter all% you need to learn what proram is best for you and your flock. Mou will find an
enormous number of opinions out there% some based on experience and some based on theory. ,n
the past when we have chosen to follow inexperience and theory% we have found that followin
experience would have been the better decision.
6nalysis for Ferma'/uard D.E.
Esed 7ere at 6"E!,:6. 7ealth O 7erbs ",.,0T!M
Because Diatomaceous Earth is a natural product% analysis will fluctuate. This is typical.
Aluminum 0.65
Boron 0.0023
Calcium (Ca), % 0.40
%CaO (calc. From %Ca) 0.55
Copper (Cu), % 0.0019
Iron (Fe), % 0.2
!a"ne#ium (!"), % 0.21
$%o#p%oru# (a# $205), % 0.03
%!"O (Calc, &rom %!") 0.34
!an"ane#e (!n), % 0.0052
$o'a##ium ((), % 0.16
)o*ium (+a), % 0.26
)'ron'ium ()r), ppm 59.9
)ul&a'e )ul&ur ()), % 0.062
,i'anium (,i), ppm 420
-ana*ium (-). ppm 43..
/inc (/n), % 0.0022
C%lori*e# .04% or 40 ppm or
.06 or 60 ppm
)ilica (a# )iO2)% 9.9
Fossil Shell Flour
Typical Physical Properties
Because D.E. is an organic product, some fuctuation in properties is expected. These are typical.
Dry brightness (green flter) 88
Specifc Gravity 2.0
pH 7.6
Oil Absorption (rub-out), % ASTM D281-84 112-116
Water Absorption, % 150
Apparent Density, loose, Scott Volumeter, lb/ft3 8-10
Wet Density lb/ft3 19-22
Surface Area, M2/g(N2BET) 26-28
Moisture (% max.) 4.5%
Typical Chemical Analysis for Fossil Shell Flour
"hemical .ei(ht Percent8 Dr) 6asis
Si!0 B=.4
Al0!9 =.4
$e0!9 2.=
M(! 4.8
"a! 2.2
%a0! 4.C
:0! 4.=
Ti!0 4.5
FDA listingGRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe)
Federal Register listing as having No Tolerance requirement.
Complies with Food Chemical Codex
Crystalline Silica content 0.36% to 1.12%
DIAT!MA"E!#S EARTH $!R PEST "!%TR!&
6) .illiam ;uarles
The ,F" Fractitioner
"onitorin the ;ield of Fest "anaement
Polume Q,P% .umber 8HC% "ayH$une 2BB5
Least toxic physical and chemical solutions are often part
of an IPM program. Various forms of amorphous silica are
commonly used as part of this strategy. Diatomaceous
earth and silica gel are used in various physical
formulations with or without added pesticide. The type of
silica and the formulation depend on the target pest. In this
issue advantages and disadvantages of diatomaceous earth
are discussed. In July the merits and uses of silica gel will
e outlined.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a non'toxic insecticide that is used for protection of stored products% and to control
pests of the home and arden. Dranic ardeners like it because it is a natural product that poisons neither the earth
nor people. Fest control operators (F:Ds) like it% because diatomaceous earth can be used to treat wall voids and
other inaccessible reions of a house in order to deny harborae to pest insects. 6lso% F:D<s that use least'toxic
products are able to address homeowner concerns about poisons in a positive way.
Diatomaceous earth is obtained from deposits of diatomite ' fossili)ed sedimentary layers of tiny phytoplankton
called diatoms% many of them oriinatin at least 54 million years ao in the lakes and seas of the "iocene (see Box
6 for more information on diatoms). The developin .orth 6merican continent was full of these oranisms that
inested dissolved silica and converted it into a hihly ordered shell. Diatoms that lived in prehistoric seas are now
mined mostly in #ompac% :alifornia as :elite R and fossili)ed freshwater species are found in such places as
:alifornia% Dreon% .evada and 6ri)ona (:ummins 2B38).
Whether marine or freshwater fossils are better for insect control work has been recently debated. ;reshwater fossils
met with early commercial success% and are easier to apply without clumpin or cakin. 6ny diatomaceous earth
with a lare oil absorption capacity% thouh% is a candidate for use as an insecticide. ,deally% it should be a hih purity
amorphous silica of a uniformly small (less then 24HS) particle si)e% that contains very little clay% and less than 2A
crystalline silica. The diatomite should be properly milled and round% the diatoms well'separated% and if possible%
physically intact (Lat) 2BBaaJ :alvert 2B=4J 6llen 2B35). 6ny product reistered with the EF6 has to meet the
proper standards. This kind of material is easier to obtain from freshwater fossil sources because much of the marine
diatomite is calcined (lassified by hih temperatures) in order to improve its filtration characteristics (:alvert
2B=4).
:alcined fossils are often sold for use in swimmin pool filters. 0uch material has little absorptive power% and is not
useful as an insecticide (see :ommon 0ense Fest :ontrol @uarterly =(2)K29'2C). 7ih temperature (G44 deree :)
also converts amorphous silica into crystalline silica% and some rades of diatomite on the market may contain up to
C4A of this material. :rystalline silica% when inhaled can cause the deadly disease silicosis or other respiratory
problems (Lat) 2BB2aJ Diafil 2BB5J 6brams 2B89).
Both silica el and diatomaceous earth are forms of amorphous silica% and they both kill insects by desiccation% not
by absorbin water% but by absorbin the oily or waxy outer cuticle layer by direct contact. When the thin (about
2HS) waterproof layer of the epicuticle is lost% the insect loses water% then dies. 6brasive damae to the cuticle also
leads to water loss in some cases% but the effectiveness of silica as an insecticide often depends on the amount of oil
it can absorb. The ability to absorb oil or wax from an insect% is often% but not necessarily% related to surface area of
the silica (Ebelin 2BC2). 0ilica el has the advantae of a much larer surface area than diatomaceous earth% but the
latter is more abrasive. Whether the one or the other is used depends on the taret insect and conditions (Ebelin
2B32).
Diatomaceous earth was improved in 2B3C with the invention of DryacideR. The surface area of the silica was
increased by luin silica el to it. Trials of Dryacide for wheat protection are discussed later. 6nother improved
material is 0hell'shockR invented by Dorsey Dunlap and tested by !obert 0netsiner at the Eniversity of
Fennsylvania. 0hellshock is diatomaceous earth covered with an adhesive that is formulated for control of insects
such as cockroaches and ants. Dnce an insect comes into contact with 0hellshock% it is unable to easily remove it.
#ipids and fats are drained from the cuticle% and the insect dies from desiccation (see :ommon 0ense Fest :ontrol
@uarterly 3(2)K8'54). Thouh not used as often as silica el inside houses% diatomaceous earth is most useful in
treatin cracks% wall crevices% wall voids% and attics to repel insects and deny harborae in these areas. ,t is effective
aainst pests that live in close association with humans such as cockroaches% silverfish% mites% ants% houseflies%
spiders% bedbus% fleas and crickets (0t. 6ubin 2BB2).
Histor) of #se
0oil and clay dust is often used by birds that take (dust baths( to free themselves of mites and other parasites. This
observation may have led the :hinese to use diatomaceous earth (diatomite) for pest control 9444 years ao (6llen
2B35). ,n 6merica% road dust was observed killin cotton worms as early as 2GG4 (0telle 2GG4). Entil the 2B84<s clay
dusts% sand% or silica el were more popular test materials than diatomite. ,nsects controlled by inert dusts up to 2B84
include oriental fruit moth and codlin moth larvae% flea beetles% cucumber beetles% cockroaches% "exican bean
beetle larvae% and stored rain pests (Bartlett 2B82).
"arine diatomaceous earth was used in many of the early experiments. Follivka (2B=2) used diatomaceous earth to
suppress field populations of corn borer. Dustin the corn plants had a measurable physioloical effect. 0ilkin was
delayed% and for every day<s delay in silkin% there was a reduction of 9A in the corn borer<s population. :hiu
BOX A. BIOLOGY OF DIATOMS
Thouh diatomaceous earth is composed of fossili)ed diatoms% these small creatures have survived with
few chanes until today. Two ma1or types exist% marine and freshwater. ;reshwater diatoms were
discovered by #eewenhoek in 234= before the existence of marine oranisms was even suspected.
0ystematic namin and identification bean in 2G2B. Diatoms are all sinle'celled oranisms% but some
are free'livin and others live in colonies. They are enerally flat% composed of two overlappin valves
made of porous silica with many small (.8 to 2S) holes. The eneral construction is similar to that of a
petri dish (:ummins 2B38). The ma1or species in freshwater fossil samples is the cylindrical Melostra
granulata which is shown in the photo on the front pae. ,t is 8 to =8 in diameter% and B to 5CS in heiht.
Fores are 84 to 244 mS in diameter (:alvert 2B=4).
Diatoms are phytoplankton% actually small plants that are responsible for much of the food and most of
the oxyen that is consumed on the earth. 6bout six'tenths of all phytoplankton are diatoms% and the
ocean averaes 3 to G billion per s*uare meter. Flankton diatoms divide once every 2G to =C hours% and
the life cycle of a diatom is about C days. "arine diatomaceous phytoplankton are often called (rass of
the sea( because many ocean creatures depend on them for food. "asses of them are consumed in the
food chain% as it takes 24%444 lb. of diatoms to make 2%444 lbs. Df coepeds% then 244 lbs. Df herrin% and
finally 2 lb. of tuna fish.
Diatoms filter nutrients from solution% and photosynthesi)e% releasin oxyen. The product of
photosynthesis is a dark'reen fishy smellin oil that is chemically more similar to animal than veetable
oil. Diatom oil may be the source of today<s petroleum.
Diatoms represent the ma1or way that silicates dissolved from the earth<s crust are recycled. @uart) has a
solubility of about 24 ppm% while amorphous silica averaes around 244 ppm. !iver waters have about 8
to =8 ppm of dissolved silica. 0olubility of silicates is low% but the ocean has 42 to 3 rams per ton of
water. Diatoms extract silicic acid% and incorporate it into shell. When diatoms settle to the bottoms of
lakes and seas% diatomaceous earth deposits are formed. This silica is often reinterated under pressure
into the earth<s crust as sedimentary or metamorphic rock% usually a hard chert consistin of opal or
chalcedony.
Deposition rate is slow ' 2 foot every 54%444 years. ;reshwater deposits occur in streams% swamps% lakes
and ponds. "arine deposits were in "oreno shales of the Epper :retaceous% about C4'224 million years
ao. The E.0. deposits occurred durin the "iocene epoch% about 54'=4 million years ao.
0edimentary deposits of diatoms are sometimes found in decayin bos with other plant material. This
association with decay led to the term kieseluhr (2G4G) for diatomaceous earth in /ermany. The word
comes from the /erman words kiesel (silica) and uhrer (to ferment). "ost everywhere in Enlish
speakin countries the deposits are called diatomite. Diatomite was first discovered in 6merica in 2G=B
in a bo near West Foint% .ew Mork. ,t was discovered in :alifornia in 2G85 near 0ulsan Bay% =4 miles
north of 0an ;rancisco. There are diatomite deposits throuhout :alifornia% and the larest one is the
marine deposit near #ompoc that is responsible for much of the filter aid sold under the brand name
:eliteT. The first commercial application of diatomite was the manufacture of dynamite in 2GC8
(:ummins 2B38).
Table <. Insects on Treated and #ntreated .heatU
Substance in ''m
= Protection after >
months
= Protection after <0
months
= :ernels Dama(ed
<? mo.
P.5uard 0111 BB.= B9.3 24
P.5uard 9?11 BB.9 BC.= C
P.5uard ?111 BB.B BG.2 8
"ab3!3Sil 0?1 B=.3 =9.5 8B
"ab3!3Sil ?11 BG.9 92.= 85
"ab3!3Sil @?1 BB.9 G2.G =G
Malathion B5.5 32.= =4
"ontrol 4 4 B5
!"Protection # $o. Insects in controls # $o. insects in Treated% $o. in &ontrols x '((.
Diatoms on Dr) 5rain
When moisture content of the rain is low (e.. B.58A)% and lare enouh concentrations of
diatomaceous earth are used% stored products are protected better with diatomite than with a standard
malathion treatment. Table 2 compares treatment with diatomaceous earth at 5444% =844% and 8444 ppm
with silica el treatment at 584% 844% and 384 ppm and a standard malathion treatment of 2 pint 83A
concentrate (4.C= lb. a.i.) per 2444 bushels. Tests were done in small (9 bushel) bins. Dver a period of
about six months there were five releases of about 28%444 stored product insects includinK rice weevils%
)itophilus ory*ae% confused flour beetles% Triolium confusumJ red flour beetles. T. castaneumJ flat rain
beetles% &ryptolestes pusillusJ and saw'toothed rain beetles% +ry*aephilus surinamensis. The moisture
content of the rain slowly increased durin the year of the test from about BA initially to about 2=A at
25 months because storae was in open bins at about 84A relative humidity. Two kinds of diatomaceous
earth% LeniteR and Ferma'/uardR were actually used% but there was little difference between them.
Each of the two silica els% :ab'D'0ilR and Dri'dieR 0/'CG also ave similar results.
Table 2 shows the results of repellency and damae assays performed on the stored wheat. !epellency
was assayed by countin the total number of insects in either treated or untreated bins. 0mall numbers of
insects mean lare repellency or a lare percent protection. 6fter y months both silica el and diatoms
protected rain better than malathion. 6t 25 months% even the lowest concentration level of Ferma'
/uard ave dramatically better protection than malathion. 6lthouh this test seems to measure pure
repellency% #a 7ue was more cautious and believed% (the comparatively small number of live insects in
wheat treated with the diatomaceous earths throuhout the storae may have been a result of killin
action% of repellency% or a combination of both.( /rain damae after 28 months was 8 to 24A with
diatoms and =48 with malathion (#a7ue 2BC3a).
6s can be seen from Table 2% silica el did not protect as well as diatomaceous earth. #arer
concentrations (384 ppm) thouh% obviously ave much better protection. ,n a later experiment #a 7ue
(2B34) showed that :ab'D'0il at 2444 ppm was capable of ivin slihtly better protection to wheat
(22.3A moisture) than either malathion or diatomaceous earth aainst the lesser rain borer%
,hny*opertha dominica. The diatomaceous earth was applied at =844 ppm and the malathion treatment
was a standard application of emulsion at 4.C= lb. a.i.H2444 bushels. /rain was almost completely
protected from insect damae for 25 months.
Mortalit) and Time
6s well as repellency and total amount of
rain damae% toxicity as a function of timeis also an important variable. ,n this study of dry (B.58A
moisture) stored wheat% rain samples from the bins were taken at various times throuhout 25 months
and live stored rain insect species were added to test mortality from the treated rain durin a
continuous 52'day exposure. 6s seen in Table 5% Ferma'/uard at the hihest concentration ave better
25'month protection than malathion for all insects tested. Diatoms were more effective aainst the rice
weevil than the lesser rain borer or the confused flour beetle. "alathion ave the poorest protection
aainst the confused flour beetle. :learly% all insecticides were less toxic at loner storae times. Toxic
effects drop off with time due to physical and chemical chanes that occur when the dust is exposed to
the atmosphere in a thin film (Ebelin 2B3=).
T)'e of Stored Product Insect
:arlson and Ball (2BC5) also used Ferma'/uard to protect wheat aainst several different insect species.
Wheat at either 25 or 29A moisture was treated with 4 to 3444 ppm of diatomaceous earth. "ortality of
the insects (A that died) was assessed after two weeks of continuous exposure. The lesser rain borer%
rice weevil% ranary weevil% and saw'toothed rain beetle all had much reater mortality at the lower
moisture level. ,n fact% 5A less moisture often meant =4A reater mortality. The treatment was most
effective for hairy insects such as the flat rain beetle% rice weevil% and ranary weevil% )itophillus
granariusJ somewhat less effective for saw'toothed rain beetle% khapra beetle larvae% Trogoderma
paraileJ and lesser rain borer% ,hy*opertha dominica. "ortality rates were lowest for smooth'surfaced
insects such as the confused flour beetle% and red flour beetle. 6t the hihest rates of application (3444
ppm) and the low moisture% mortality was B4A or better for all insects except Trooderma larvae (8GA)%
confused flour beetle (8.C)% and red flour beetle (25.GA).
"ortality of confused flour beetle was very low in this experiment% but as we have seen in Table 5% #a
7ue observed hih mortalities (nearly 244A at one year with 8444 ppm Ferma'/uard) over lon
periods of time when the confused flour beetle was challened with treated rain. Dne difference was
that #a 7ue exposed the insects to treated rain for three weeks instead of two before assayin for
mortality. "ore importantly thouh% the rain he used was drier at the start of the experiment. ,nitial
rain moisture% then% is more important than the type of insect% and may be the most important factor in
determinin successful control of stored product insects with any particular diatomaceous earth or silica
el. The DE becomes ineffective in a moist environment% not because water fouls or saturates the
absorptive surface% but because insects can constantly replenish their water loss by eatin the moist
rain.
Table 0. Mortalities from Malathion or DiatomsA
Substance Insect = Mortalit) > mo. = Mort. <0 mo.
P. 5uard 0111 adult rice weevil 244.4 83.9
P. 5uard ?111 adult rice weevil 244.4 B5.B
Malathion adult rice weevil BB.C 35.B
P. 5uard 0111 c. flour beetle B=.C =B.5
P. 5uard ?111 c. flour beetle 244.4 BB.C
Malathion c. flour beetle C8.9 G.G
P. 5uard ?111 lesser . borer B=.5 B5.4
Malathion lesser . borer BB.C 8B.C
!Mortality was assayed after a -' day continuous exposure
Table 9. Influence of Moisture on DE Re'ellenc)
"ro'
Treatment in
''m
Initial =
Moisture
= Protection in >
mo.
= Protection in <0
mo.
Reference
.heat 5444 B.58 BB.9 B9.2 #a 7ue2BC3a
.heat =844 B.58 BB.9 BC.= #a 7ue2BC3a
.heat 8444 B.58 BB.B BG.2 #a 7ue2BC3a
.heatAA 844 22.5 GC.B '''' #a 7ue2B3G
.heat 5353 2=.4 effective ineffective
0tron O 0bur
2BC=
.heat =C=C 2=.4 effective effective ,bid.
Sor(hum 2GB8 2=.4 less than 4 less than 4 #a 7ue 2BC3b
"orn 5282 2=.9 )ero less than 4 #a 7ue 2BCC
!" protection # numer in controls.numers in treated % numer in controls x '((. !!/igh temperature 00 1& 23'.0 145 storage
Effect of Moisture
6s we see in Table =% the initial moisture of the stored rain and the amount of diatomite used are two
important factors in duration of protection. Diatomaceous earth was least effective for moist sorhum
and moist corn. ,n both these cases% the initial rain moisture was more important than the relative
humidity of the storae room. ;or the case of moist corn or sorhum% even when moisture decreased
with time in dry storae% little protection was afforded. We also see from the Table = that even when the
rain is somewhat moist% the effects of this can sometimes be overcome by the use of larer amounts of
diatomaceous earth (DE).
The corn started out with a hih (2=.9A) moisture content% but was stored in a low humidity
atmosphere. Because of the low humidity (marked reductions occurred in the moisture content of the
corn durin the first = months of storae.( The toxicity of the diatomaceous earth increased as the rain
moisture decreased% but after one year about 95A of the treated corn kernels had been attacked% versus
about B4A damae to untreated corn. The concentration of diatomaceous earth used (5282 ppm) was not
lare enouh to overcome the lare initial rain moisture despite a favorable low humidity storae (#a
7ue 2BCC).
,n eneral% mortality showed the same kind of decline with time seen with the repellency of the treated
rain. ,n a toxicity test at one month% diatomaceous earth on corn killed G=.GA of the rice weevils% but
was not very effective after this time. ;ew confused flour beetles were killed. 6fter one month% the
treated sorhum was larely ineffective aainst all insects tested in 52'day mortality tests. 6t one year
the sorhum had been mostly destroyed by weevils. "ore weevils were in treated bins than controls
because untreated rain had been eaten (#a 7ue 2BC3b).
Initial Infestation and Adherenc)
The situation for sorhum and corn was complicated by two other important variables ' prior infestation
and amount of adherency by the dust. The sorhum was infested with insects before it was treated% and
DE does not adhere well to corn. Frotection was a little better for corn% althouh the level of treatment
was about the same as for sorhum% and the initial moisture levels were similar. ,nitial infestation is
important because much of DE rain protection comes from repellency% and the most resistant beetles%
such as the confused flour beetle% thrive on damaed rain. (6rboast and "ullen 2BGG).
When applied to corn% the DE did not adhere well to the rains% and accumulated in the bottom of the
bins% so the upper layers were protected less well than lower layers. 6 later study verified that
diatomaceous earth does not adhere as well to corn as it does the wheat or sorhum (#a 7ue 2B35).
"hoice ,ersus %o "hoice
,n most of #a 7ue<s experiments there was an excess of food available for the weevils released in
storae bins. The experimental set was thus choice tests ' insects had a choice of treated or untreated
rain. When an infestation is severe% and little food is available% the test situation is essentially a no
choice situation% and hunry insects must eat treated rain. ;or example% when small amounts (5k) of
wheat (2=A moisture) were treated with diatomaceous earth at 2G2G ppm% and =C=C ppm% the minimum
of about 5444 ppm that #a 7ue found was ade*uate to protect the rain no loner worked for lon
storae times. 6ll rates of application worked e*ually well for C months% but differences started to show
at B months. Dnly the =C=C ppm treatment was effective for a full 25 months (0tron and 0hur 2BC=).
#SDA Stora(e Re,iew
Dther experiments have also shown that diatomaceous earth protects stored products better than
malathion. #are *uantities of rain can be protected for up to three years. Dust concentration can be
lower when storae is at hiher temperatures. The type of silica el or diatomite used seems to matter in
some cases. Due to space constraints% this material will be reviewed in a future paper on silica el
(White et al. 2B38J White et al. 2BCC% @uinlan et al. 2BCCJ !edliner et al. 2BCCJ E0D6 2BC3J #a 7ue
2B3G).
Ad,anta(es and Disad,anta(es
The advantae of diatomaceous earth treatment for stored products is that it is non'toxic% is easy to
separate from rain merely by washin it% and could possibly be recycled in storae bins. 0mall amounts
can also be safely protected. Beans stored in 244 lb. sacks can be protected by as little as =44ppm. Dr
one'half ounce (6llen 2B35). 6bout 2 cupful (C58 ppm) of Ferma'/uard per 58 lbs. Df rain is
recommended by Eniversal Diatoms. With stored wheat% the plumpness% moisture content and other
characteristics of the kernels% and the bakin characteristics of the flour are unchaned by treatment (#a
7ue 2BC3a). ;reshwater diatomaceous earth is so non'toxic that there are no established tolerance levels
for residues on rain. Dn the other hand% silica el is rated as a (forein substance( by the E0D6. Even
thouh silica el is more effective on a weiht basis than diatomaceous earth% its use results in lower
*uality radin upon inspection by the E0D6. 6ny wheat containin silica el is automatically iven
the lowest rade ' (sample rade.(
The disadvantae of diatomaceous earth treatment is that it reduces the weiht per bushel of the treated
product. This weiht loss for dry wheat is about 9 lbs. Fer bushel (a bushel weihs about C4 lbs.). The
loss of weiht is not due to water loss% but to a decreased bulk density of the treated rain. The dust
adherin to the kernels affects the nestlin and settlin *ualities of the rain% and it does pack as tihtly.
The problem is that weiht loss per bushel is a E0D6 radin standard for determinin rain damae
from insects. #oss of weiht per bushel means that the wheat is iven a lower *uality ratin even if the
total mass of the wheat is the same as it was before storae (#a 7ue 2BC3a).
Both dusts are superior to malathion in that they do not leave toxic residues% and their protective
*ualities arise mainly from repellency. "alathion does not repel insects% but protects by killin them.
The dusts exert less Darwinian selective pressure% and thus there is less chance for resistance to occur.
Mode of Action
6 continuin controversy concernin the use of inert dusts is their mode of insecticidal action. Parious
theories have been proposed% but the consensus now seems to be that all the dusts kill not by poisonin
or suffocation% but by desiccation. The outer wax or rease layer on the insect is lost to the dust either
throuh abrasion or absorption. 0ince the insect then has no protection aainst water loss% desiccation
occurs and the insect dies. ;or instance% when stored product insects were rolled in Ferma'/uard for 24
seconds% then held in a dry environment for 59 hours% the treated lesser rain borer had twice the water
loss of control insects and dies = times fasterJ the same result was shown for the red flour beetle. The
confused flour beetle had a water loss of about C2A% and death was faster than controls (:arlson and
Ball 2BC5). Ebelin (2B32) found that (reardless of the period re*uired to kill an insect species% death
occurred when 5G to =8A of the body weiht (about C4A of the water content) was lost.(
;rom #a 7ue<s (2B34) work we have seen that dry wheat can be protected about as well by treatment
with 2444 ppm of :ab'D'0il silica el as by =844 ppm Ferma'/uard freshwater diatomaceous earth.
;or this application then% silica el is about =.8 times more effective by weiht than diatomaceous earth.
Fart of the difference is due to adherence. 6bout 3=A of Ferma'/uard applied at =844 ppm to wheat
adheres% whereas about B9A of the silica el applied at 2444 ppm does. When the ratio is recomputed
correctin for adherence% we find that silica el is actually about 5.3 times more effective than diatoms
(#a 7ue). #a 7ue did not publish the oil absorption capacity of the materials he used. 6 contemporary
freshwater diatomaceous earth (Diafil) will absorb about 225'22CA of its weiht in oil (Dia;il 2BB5).
The amount of oil taken up by diatomaceous earth was also measured on several /erman samples. The
samples absorbed from 225 to 234A of their weiht of peanut oil (Lre)il and We1roch 2B=C).
6ccordin to 7arry Lat) (2BB2a)% (silica el can hold oil up to =44A of its weiht. ;resh water diatoms
can hold up to 229A of their weiht in oil.( ,f only oil absorption were important% we would expect
silica el to be about 5.C times more effective than diatomaceous earth. 6s oil absorption capacity seems
to be a ood predictor of effectiveness in this case% the absorptive power of the diatomaceous earth
seems to be more important than its abrasiveness% at least for the insects and conditions tested by #a
7ue (2B34).
Dr)acide
0ilica el is not useful for the treatment of stored products because its small particle si)e makes it
difficult to use. ,t is also rated as a forein substance when rain is raded. These disadvantaes are
overcome by the use of a patented process whereby diatomaceous earth is coated with silica aeroels.
The silica el coatin is 4.2A (wH w) the treated particles rane from 54 to 84 Hu and the product has a
packed bulk density of 28 to 244 lb.Hft = (7edes and Bedford 2B38). Dryacide is a ray dust that is GCA
amorphous silica% 5A moisture% GA clay% and 9A carbon from oranic material in the oriinal diatomite
(6ldryhim 2BB4) (0ince absorption power is increased by silica el% a diatomite of lower purity can be
used.)
Tests of Dryacide for stored product protection found that populations of the rice weevil% lesser rain
borer% and red flour beetle showed 244A mortality with use of 2444 ppm at C8A relative humidity and
54 derees :. "ortality rates declined with increasin humidity. Dryacide treated wheat also prevented
the adult development of almond moth% 6phestia cautella es.
The 2444 ppm of Dryacide (2 Hk) was easily removed either by washin or millin. Washed wheat
contained less than 54 mHk% and milled flour from unwashed wheat contained less than =4 mHk.
!esidues larer than 244 mHk affect the *uality of the wheat% includin bakin characteristics of the
flour (Desmarchelier and Dines 2BG3).
$urther Tests
;urther tests were conducted on the ranary weevil and the confused flour beetle at two different
temperatures (54 and =4 derees :) and two different relative humidities (94 and C4A). Dryacide was
more toxic at lower relative humidities. The #:84 at 3 days for both species was less than 584 ppm at
94A !.7. reardless of temperature. 6t C4A !.7. the #:84 raned from about 5C4 to 958 ppm. Toxicity
measured at 5 days was 5.9 to =.8 reater at lower relative humidities
.
Toxicity also increases with increased temperature% 5.B times for the ranary weevil and 2.= times for
the confused flour beetle. There was no adverse effect on wheat seed ermination% or *uality of flour
and baked oods (6ldryhim 2BB4).
5ARDE%S A%D $IE&DS
Pery few controlled studies of diatomaceous earth use in fields and ardens have been conducted. Even
in these studies such basic information as the type of DE used is often omitted. ,n one field experiment
diatomaceous earth (type and amount used not specified) was used as a physical barrier aainst the
cabbae maot% Delia radicum% in order to protect broccoli and :hinese cabbae. The treatment ave
no protection% but it was applied late due to heavy rains% and had to be reapplied for the same reason
("atthews'/. and 7. /oldstein 2BGG).
6pplication of diatomaceous earth (infusorial earth% probably marine DE) to corn fields reduced corn
borer% +strinia 2Pyausta5 nuialis% populations by 84A. Enfortunately% corn yields were reduced by the
same amount% apparently because silkin was delayed by the treatment (Folvika 2B=2).
"ixtures of Derris (rotenone) and diatomaceous earth% or cryolite (.a
=
6,;
C
) and diatomaceous earth
were used to successfully treat beans and cabbae in field experiments aainst "exican bean beetle
(Turner 2B9C). 6 controlled study in 2B9= found diatomite successfully reduced pea weevil populations
(GCA mortality). :alifornia cotton treated with DE had reater yields than fields treated with insecticide%
but part of this effect may have been due to key fertili)er elements such as manesium that are present
in diatomaceous earth (Tucker 2B3G).
!esearchers at the Eniversity of Lansas 6ricultural Experiment 0tation found that diatomaceous earth
sprays were not very effective aainst cabbae looper% Trichoplasia ni% but that powder did somewhat
better. When a pyrethrin'treated (4.5A) product e*uivalent to Diacide 7omeuardR was used% however%
cabbae looper% aphids% asparaus beetles% harle*uin bus and other insects was obtained. There were
fre*uent applications because rain kept washin the DE away. The dust had very little effect on slus
(Wilbur et al. 2B32).
Diatomaceous earth may be effective in controllin aphids% brown mites% red spider mites% twi borers%
oriental fruit moths% and codlin moths in orchards or chalcid weevils in alfalfa. The ma1or problem
with outside use% other than possible toxicity to beneficials is the nuisance value of the dust. ;our
applications of 344 lbsHac. may be necessary to maintain ood control of chalcid weevils in alfalfa% for
instance. The dust is extremely fine% and does not adhere well to foliae. ,t must be applied with an
electrostatic applicator or shortly after plants have been moistened. 6nother reason diatomaceous earth
may be impractical for field use is cost. When lare areas are treated% it costs more than malathion. This
disadvantae would not be a consideration for arden'si)e plots% of course (!oss 2BG2).
Ender field conditions insects are repelled by diatomite dust applied to row crops and orchards.
6lthouh bees tend to avoid treated blossoms% predators are killed by dust application. To minimi)e
death of beneficials% diatomite should be applied late in the evenin or at niht.
6lthouh few controlled studies have been done% reports of arden use rane from neative to wildly
enthusiastic. (Esers claim Thai diatomaceous earth is deadly to ypsy moth% codlin moth% pink boll
weevil% lyus bu% twi borer% thrips% mite% earwi% cockroach% slus% adult mos*uitoes% snails%
nematodes% flies% corn worm% tomato hornworm% mildew and on and one( (6llen 2B35). .eative
responses have been either that it does not work% or that it killed released beneficials% such as lady
beetles.
Dne method for arden use is to spread DE on the round in the sprin% then till it into the soil.
0upposedly% this controls mollusks and kills cucumber beetles% bean beetles% cabbae loopers% and
tomato hornworms emerin from pupal staes. The repellency of the dust should be exploited throuh
the use of barriers% when possible. Trees are protected by coatin the round around the tree base%
paintin the trunk with TanlfootR% and applyin DE to the adhesive. This treatment reduces miration
of $apanese beetle rubs and fruit fly maots. 6s a snail barrier% a two'inch wide band a *uarter'inch
thick is spread around the area to be protected. The DE should be kept dry for best results (De:rosta
2B3B).
Diatomaceous earth can also be applied with a mechanical pump'type duster% or a humble applicator
such as a plastic ketchup bottle. ;or small areas% .ecessary Tradin sells DE in a salt'shaker type of
container. 6 dust mask and protective clothin should be worn when dust is applied. 6nother method is
to add 2H9 lb. DE to a 8 allon sprayer% then add a *uart of warm water containin a teaspoon of flax
soap% then top off with water and mix thorouhly. Dne part D in = to 8 parts of water has also been used.
This mixture can be sprayed on trees and veetation (De:rosta 2B3B).
Dne thin is sure% thouh% diatoms are less effective in hot humid weather. :ontrol is better in areas with
low rainfall. ,n one orchard where rainfall is less than 8 inches per year% damae was limited to 5A twi
borer damae% and 5A from oriental fruit fly (6llen 2B35).
Thouh there is much anecdotal evidence that DE works for controlled arden pests% only one company
has reistered it with the EF6 as an insecticide for use in the arden. ,t is usually sold in arden stores as
a (horticultural helper.( The pryrethrin'treated products% thouh reistered for arden use% cannot be
used for aricultural purposes (see Box B for reistration information).
%ew and !ld
0hellshockR overcomes the inherent repellency of diatomaceous earth by addin attractants. The
oriinal formulation was CCA fresh water diatomaceous earth with =9A attractants such as cane suar%
cornstarch% dextrin% molasses% and soybean mill feedins (Dunlap 2BC5). The new version of 0hellshock
has G88 DE and an improved adhesive (Dunlap 2BB5).
6 non'toxic insecticide for flyin and crawlin insects was prepared from B4A :elite% GA skim milk%
and 5A yeast extract. 6 fast knockdown of houseflies and mos*uitoes was observed after sprayin with
this material (:arle 2BG8).
6n improved Dryacide for cockroach control has also been patented. Diatomaceous earth (=45 rams)
fine enouh to sift throuh 544'944 mesh screen is treated with 944 rams of silica el. The stabili)ed
product is then mixed 2K2 (wKw) with powdered boric acid. When the product is spread at a rate of 5
Hm=% cockroaches are controlled within 3 hours (Belford 2BB4).
6 heavy application of DE dust to cattle can control cattle lice% 7ovicola ovis. This approach miht
have to be used aain if the oranism becomes resistant to current control aents ("atthysse 2B9C).
Household #se
Diatomaceous earth and silica el are both useful for pest manaement in dwellins. :ockroaches are
especially sensitive to these kinds of desiccants% which is fortunate as they are becomin resistant to
chemical pesticides. ,n a field test in /eoria% diatomaceous earth with pyrethrins (DiatectR ' 4.5A
pyrethrins% 2A FBD% DE GGA) was tested alon with silica el (DriDieR ' B8.=A silica el% 9.3A
ammonium fluosilicate)% and silica el with pyrethrins (DrioneR ' =4A silica el% 2.4A pyrethrins% 24A
FBD% and 9BA petroleum distillates). Boric acid% bendiocarb% dia)inon% and chlorpyrifos were also
tested in the same experiment.
Dusts were applied with a .5k :entrobulb duster (:entral !obber Frod.% 0outh 0alem% .M 248B4).
7eavy infestations (kitchens with more than 58 cockroaches visually sihted) in 94 homes were treated.
Effectiveness data were determined after one treatment at roach hot spots in the kitchen. (.ear or behind
refrierators reatest% wall cabinets next% floor cabinets least.) Dne application of pesticide was applied%
then cockroaches were monitored by traps at 2% 5% 9% and G weeks.
:ockroach populations were reduced by all treatments. The treated diatomaceous earth did not do as
well as the other products. (Boric acid% chlorpyrifos% Drione% and Dri'Die did not offer in efficacy while
all four produced reater mortality than bendiocarb% dia)inon and Diatect.( 7owever% the time spectrum
was slihtly different amon the most effective products. :hlorpyrifos and Drione brouht about the
*uickest reduction in populations% B= and BCA% respectively% after the first week. The effectiveness of
the silica products dropped off somewhat with time. 6t G weeks DriDie showed a 89A reduction in
population (initially 3BA)% and Drione showed a 3GA reduction at G weeks compared to BCA at week
one. The boric acid started off slowly% then improved in effectiveness with time. ,n the first week the
reduction was CBA% but in weeks 5 throuh G% reduction was constantly above B4A. Boric acid ave the
reatest overall control throuhout the test (Wriht and Dupree 2BG9).
6 similar test compared DiacideR to Diacide with 4.5A pyrethrins and to DrioneR for /erman
cockroach control in kitchens and bathrooms of infested urban apartments in Pirinia. Dusts were
applied to cracks and crevices% wall voids% and inaccessible areas behind refrierators and stoves. 0ticky
trap counts to monitor success were made% 2% 5% and 9 weeks after the test and compared with similar
counts made before treatment. The insecticides with pyrethrins worked *uicker% but there was no
sinificant difference between the products when results were monitored over four weeks (!ambo
2BB5).
When food and water is available% roach mortality is delayed. ;or instance% /erman cockroach
populations exposed to 2 Hft.5 of shellshock have 244A mortality in 59 hours when confined without
food or water. When food and water is provided% 244A mortality takes 28 days. (#ess than 54A of the
controls are dead at this time.) The roaches< normal behavior is disrupted% however% and thirsty roaches
spent 94A of their time at water sources% compared to 4.BA for controls. 6merican% Driental% and
brownbanded cockroaches take 8 or C days for 244A mortality without food or water% and 2= to 2G days
when water is available (0netsiner 2BGG).
6nother problem is the diatomaceous earth repels roaches. :onse*uently% they are often flushed from
treated areas% but not killed. Dne stratey is to treat cockroach harborae with diatomaceous earth to
deny the insects a comfortable home% then kill those that are flushed out with a knockdown insecticide
such as pyrethrins (Ebelin 2B32J Lat) 2BB2b).
6nother approach is to modify application methods or the product to reduce repellency. ;or instance%
repellency is reduced if applied concentration is kept below = o) per 244 ft.5 (Lat) 2BB2a). 6ttractants
can also reduce repellency. Dorsey Dunlap<s oriinal DE insecticide contained molasses and suar. 7is
0hellshock does not repel 6merican cockroaches exposed to a surface dustin of 5Hft.5. 6lso% since
0hellshock contains no toxic inredients% its use in meat packin plants has been recently approved
(0netsiner 2BB5).
Safet) of Diatomaceous Earth
,nestion of diatomaceous earth is not toxic to mammals. !ats fed a daily diet containin 8A freshwater
diatomaceous earth show no abnormalities after B4 days (Bertke 2BC9). Dairy farms sometimes feed
their animals food containin 2 to 5A diatomaceous earth to control worms and other internal parasites
(6llen 2B35). ,mpoverished humans add (fossil flour( to their baked oods in order to stretch their flour
supply (:ummins 2B38). ,t is so safe for use on food that the ;D6 has exempted diatomaceous earth
from re*uirements of fixed residue levels when added to stored rain (;ed. !e. 2BC2). The E.0. EF6
also allows its use in food storae and processin areas (;ed. !e. 2BG2).
The only possible health effect comes from lon'term chronic exposure to *uantities of the inhaled dust.
:urrent maximum E.0. exposure standards are C mHm
=
of dust containin less than 2A crystalline
silica (Festline 2BB2). :alcined diatomaceous earth poses the reatest problem. ;or instance% rats
showed little reaction when their luns were exposed to 8'G4 m of naturally occurrin diatomaceous
earth% but a stron reaction to diatomaceous earth than had been calcined (heated to G44 derees :)
(0wenson 2B32)% $apanese workers chronically exposed to diatomaceous earth showed sinificant serum
increases of the protease en)ymes that correlate with emphysema (Dmura 2BG2). "arine diatomaceous
earth has enouh crystalline silica in it that minin can cause health problems. Diatomite from this
source may produce a distinct type of pneumoconiosis% the term applied to any abnormality in the luns
resultin from the inhalation of dust (6brams 2B89).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
The author wishes to thank Dr. Walter Ebelin for comments on the manuscript.
!E;E!E.:E0K
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Ross8 T.E. 2BG2. Diatomaceous earth as a possible alternate to chemical insecticides. 8gric. and
6nviron. CK9='82.
Snetsin(er8 R. 2BB5. Fersonal communication.
Snetsin(er8 R. 2BB5. Test results for 0hellshock for EF6 reistration. Dbtained by the author from
Dorsey Dunlap 6pril 25% 2BB5.
Stelle8 7.P. 2GG4. !oad dust vs. cottonworms. 8mer. 6nt. =K82'5. :ited in Bartlett 2B82.
St. Aubin8 $orrest8 2BB2. Everythin old is new aain. Pest &ontrol. Technol. $uneK84K85. 245.
Stron(8 R.5. and D. E. 0bur. 2BC=. Frotection of wheat seed with diatomaceous earth. J. 6con.
6ntomol. 8CK=35'9.
Swenson8 A. 2B32. Experimental evaluation of the fibroenetic power of mineral dusts. )tud. Laoris
)alutis 24KGC'B3. :6 3GK59G98r(2B3=).
Tuc4er8 .. 2B3G. The ood earth pesticide. .ew Times 5(52 6u)K5BK=8. :ited in !oss 2BG2.
Turner8 %. 2B9C. Diatomaceous diffluents for (insecticidal) dusts. J. 6con. 6ntomol. =BK29B'8G.
#SDA. 2BC3% E0D6H6!0 Freliminary Froress !eport from the "arketin @uality Division% Dct. 2%
2BC3% pp. =5'95.
.hite8 5.D.% W.#. Berndt% $.7. 0chesser% and :.:. ;ifield% 2BCC. Evaluation of four inert dusts for the
protection of stored wheat in Lansas from insect attack. E0D6H6!0 !eport .o. 82'G% 55 pp.
.ilbur8 D.A.% /. 0woyer% and 6. Donahy. 2B32. Effects of standardi)ed diatomaceous earth on certain
species of insects% Fro1ect .o. 854=. Lansas 6ricultural Experiment 0tation.
.ri(ht8 ".5. and 7.E. Dupree. 2BG9. Evaluation of /erman cockroach mortality with several
insecticidal dust formations. J. :eorgia 6ntomol. 0oc. 2B(5)52C'55=.
6o- 6. Re(istration Information for Diatomaceous Earth
!r(anic PlusR is a freshwater DE with no added insecticide. ,t has EF6 reistration for home and
arden use on ants% cockroaches% fleas% earwis% silverfish% boxelder bus% beetles% and other crawlin
insects. ,t is also reistered for use aainst slus.
Diacide Home(uardR is a freshwater DE with 4.5A pyrethins. ,t is reistered for arden use in all
states except :alifornia and .ew Mork.
Perma35uard D3<1R is a freshwater DE reistered for stored product use.
Perma35uard D301R which has 4.5A pyrethrins% is reistered for household use.
Perma35uard D30<R which has 4.2 pyrethrins is reistered for arden use.
Shellshoc4R is freshwater DE with added adhesive. ,t is reistered for inside use aainst cockroaches
and other crawlin insects. .o diatomaceous earth product is currently reistered for aricultural use%
althouh Diacide and Dranic Flus are currently preparin the kind of studies necessary for this
reistration.
Codex
Codex Requirements
Item Requirement
Perma-
guard
Results
Ar#enic (ppm) no' more '%an 10 ppm 010
1ea* (ppm) no' more '%an 10 ppm 010
+on )iliceou#
)u2#'ance%
no' more '%an 25% on *rie* 2a#i# 11.0%
$3 pa##e# 'e#' .3
1o## on 4r5in" % na'ural po6*er# no' more '%an 10% 6.2
1o## on I"ni'ion
na'ural po6*er# no' more '%an % on '%e
*rie* 2a#i#
3..