I've got a silverfish and cricket problem in the house. I've read
that diatomaceous earth is good for killing insects.
But I saw some sites say that if you breathe DE, then you might have
serious lung problems. Then I saw some sites say that there are
different types of DE - you want the "food grade" type, which
apparently is safe for humans, and is even used in flour and
Bisquick. Is that true?
Not sure how keeping your house "clean" helps with crickets and silverfish.
The former eat mostly plants and the latter attack books and natural fiber
clothing. I worked in a library with a massive silverfish problem, and there
was no food allowed anywhere near the stacks. Now if we're talking roaches
or ants, cleanliness is certainly the issue, but not so much for silverfish
and crickets. Besides, many cultures view crickets as good luck.
Then there are "palmetto bugs", which is the euphemism for Florida
cockroaches, which are quite sizeable and _very_ different from the
pathetic little things that Northerners call "cockroaches". A
palmetto bug will eat just about _anything_. I've seen them eat
paint, plaster, styrofoam, and the wax on a high voltage transformer
(that latter proved fatal for both the bug and the transformer). One
could argue that cleanliness was the issue if the kitchen was the only
thing they got into, but there were as many of them in the detached
garage and the equally detached workshop as in the kitchen. Oh, and
they fly, _very_ well--I once hit one with a Cessna at 10,000 feet.
I grew up in New Orleans so I understand about palmetto bugs. However, there
can be VERY large roaches up North, too. Thirty years ago, fresh out of
college, a former dorm-mate invited me to her first apartment in Queens. It
was one room, near the El, and not in the greatest neighborhood. She kept it
very clean, but it was clear that most of the other apartments had roaches.
Whenever they'd spray, you'd see them coming out from under doors and even
walls. I was used to palmetto bugs, so the little roaches didn't bother me
that much. The garbage chute, however, was a different story. Those roaches
were the same size as the ones you see in the Yucatan. You needed a book to
squash these things, a newspaper just bounced off. I'm talking dent your
shoes big. Need to repaint the whole wall big. When they asked for your
garbage, you gave it to them.
The big ones are called water bugs in NY. Both the big and small ones
are quite smart. When you step on them, they know how to snap their
fingers to make you think they've broken their backs. Then when you
lift your foot, they're fine and they run away.
(Actually I lived in Brooklyn for 12 years and only had roaches for 2
to 3 of them. The first year, in my brother's apartment, another
apartment, and a sublet on Eastern Parkway, no roaches. Then I got
an apartment and they got bad when I wasn't in the room and the lights
were off, but they hid when I was in the room, which I thought was
thoughtful of them, because it avoided disgusting me.
Then I moved to a 6 room apartment in the same building, and most
years there were none, but a new guy bought the building and he didn't
have a regular exterminator (as required by NY law) and it got
gradually worse, until I decided to bomb the apartment. For this, I
got one bomb for the kitchen and one for the rest of the apartment.
They are aeorsol cans that once started, keep going until the can is
empty and a fog fills the apartment. One has to get everyone out and
leave himself as soon as triggering them. IIRC, the wall swtiches
have to be taped so you don't accidentally trip one and ignite the
vapor, although maybe that was for polyurethaning the floors.
Anyhow, it killed all the bugs and the tenants in landlord-tenant
court had forced the landlord to have an exterminator by then, and I
didn't have any roaches for the next 5 years until I moved.
Boric acid was very helpful in earlier years. Some people would put
it along all the baseboards and their apartments looked like slums to
me. I just put it behind the stove where no one could see it but the
roaches, and I think it worked just as well.
Diatomaceous earth is dirt (actually it's the ground up remains of diatoms,
a type of hard-shell algae).
Certain types of DE, when breathed in quantity, can cause silicosis.
There are web sites that will claim disaster for virtually everything on the
planet (and beyond).
For your application, best to be safe and use DDT.
On 8/14/2008 2:45 PM firstname.lastname@example.org spake thus:
Diatomaceous earth is safe, as in non-toxic, but like a lot of other
stuff (including just plain old household dust), it's better not to
breathe it. The very reason it's harmful to insects--it has very sharp
points that cut the critter's outside covering--makes it undesirable to
have in one's lungs.
If I were using it, I'd just take reasonable precautions not to inhale
the dust; otherwise, don't sweat it.
No difference between various grades, so far as I know, unless there are
other minerals mixed in which might be harmful (like asbestos). If in
doubt, use the "food grade".
"In 1964 Barry Goldwater declared: \'Elect me president, and I
will bomb the cities of Vietnam, defoliate the jungles, herd the
On Thu, 14 Aug 2008 14:45:41 -0700 (PDT), " email@example.com"
All I know is that there was DE in my chemistry set for kids, 50 years
ago. Of course that was when we didn't have no stinkin' safety
standards and men were men and even little boys were men by todays
When we didn't have germ killing soap and we got used to killing the
Oh, and get rid of all your books and plants. We have the Internet now
and we don't need no stinkin' books.
On Thu, 14 Aug 2008 14:45:41 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Read the label and do some research before indiscriminately using
pesticides of any type. Each critter can be controlled by the right
stuff. Does DE work on crickets and silverfish?
Number One way to start controlling insect pests is to destroy habit.
On Aug 14, 5:45 pm, " email@example.com"
You can also use Boric Acid. It's safe; dissolved in water it's often
used as a mild antiseptic for eye irritations and infections. For
roaches and silverfish, when it's ingested it damages their metabolism
and internal organs. Externally, boric acid crystals damages their
exoskeletons. Just sprinkle it behind cabinets, under the sink, etc.
On Thu, 14 Aug 2008 22:11:38 -0700 (PDT), Steve in Virginia
Agree. Boric Acid is what I sprinkle around outside entry doors,
DE is microscopic fossils.
The type used for pool filters is heated to a high temperature, thus
melting the "jagged" edges. It will not work on the insects.
Food grade DE is not heated/processed in the above manner. The fossils
retain the sharp edges, just as they were harvested. As a food
additive (food grade) it will help reduce parasites in farm animals
--- cattle. You can by this at agricultural supply stores.
The food grade is also suggested for controlling slugs.
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