DE-trimental DE-fence

All living organisms, specifically insects, need three things to maintain life: shelter, food, water. When you take ONE of these Pest Triangle items out of the equation, the likelihood of survival goes WAY down.

(See previous blog- The Corner Store)

We all know about sanitation. Doing some much needed cleaning, takes away harborage: AKA – shelter. A little elbow grease can also go a long way in keeping the food source for insects limited. BUT – (there’s always a but) did you know that there is more than one way to take away the water in this coveted pest triangle?

“Tell me more”, you say.


Stopping water leaks, eliminating high humidity, fixing drainage problems, & mopping sweat from your brow are great ways to get rid of excess water, but is it always practical? NO. When it comes to treatment of insects, particularly, stored product pests, there is another way.

Diatomaceous Earth. (Fossilized Ocean Diatoms)This oldest, most used in organic production of food, is – in my opinion – one of the most overlooked insecticides in commercial pest control. It works by acting as a desiccant. This tan colored, fine powdered substance lacerates the exoskeleton of insects that comes into contact with it. The label I used as a reference for this post lists 17 specific insects, including lice.

ALOT of SPP in a fold of plastic

In my experience, the most common use of DE insecticide is in grain bins for treatment of stored product pests. Those raw grain commodities are most susceptible to insect damage. Grain typically get coated with DE upon arrival to the elevator and is added each time it is transferred to a different holding bin.

Grain elevators and processing facilities try to use the least invasive means of protecting our food supply. That includes the food that goes on our dinner table, and the pet food we give our fur babies. Those large and small companies really do care about the public, and all food safety challenges, especially when it comes to pesticide usage on products for consumption.


The INSECTO label lists multiple approved locations for application. “Work into carpets, furniture, mattresses…. Then vacuum. Can be applied to trucks, boxcars, and ships.” DE can be applied, sometimes, as frequently as bi-weekly. It can be mixed in a spray bottle with water to treat head lice. Damn!

Please Read The Label For Restrictions !

The food grade version of this very fine, insect dust even gets added to some beauty and cleaning products, like pumice soaps. It can be used as a supplement to treat high cholesterol, or as an exfoliant. It tastes WAY better in my cinnamon toothpaste. Don’t ask me how I know.

Published by Melisa Arnold, A.C.E.

My career in pest management began while working in a flour mill as the “in-house” technician in 2008. I am certified in multiple states. I began working full time as a fumigation-pest control tech in 2010. I achieved my Associate Certified Entomologist (ACE) in 2018. I have a Master Tech certification from Kansas State University/Kansas Pest Control Association. I hold a Bat Management certification from NWCOA. Every day, I realize how much I DON’T KNOW. My goal for this blog is to share my every day experiences from the field and to make us all think outside the box for solutions to make pest control make sense.

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