Diatomaceous Earth

If you've got a flea problem in your yard, then one of the best ways to safely get rid of your flea problem is with diatomaceous soil. What is it? Essentially, it's just crushed up sea-shells. There are tiny, fossilized creatures that lived in water, and are crushed up into a soil that won't seem that much different to you. It will, however, make a big difference to the fleas - this soil has microscopic, jagged edges that will make tiny cuts on the outside of insects that crawl over it. You and your pets won't notice it - you're too big. The fleas will - the cuts will cause them to leak water, and they will gradually dehydrate and die. It's a safe, environmentally friendly way to kill the fleas and other pests that are living in your backyard. You won't do any permanent damage because no chemicals are involved - however, if you have some other insect that you want to live in your back yard for some reason, you shouldn't put this out there.


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How To Use It:

If you're going to apply this to your yard, you should basically just dust the entire area so that at least a small amount is on the entire part in which your animal will be playing in. You may have to do this periodically - if it rains, some of it will wash away and it will lose its effectiveness. You can get it in fifty pound bags if you're planning on dusting a whole yard. However, it probably doesn't need to be a permanent thing. If your yard is infested, once you've done this for a month or two, you won't need to do it for awhile. Flea larva and all the little baby fleas will be killed off, and unless there is a new source of fleas from the neighbor's pets or yards, they won't be coming back. It's a perfect natural remedy for any flea problem - diatomaceous earth and fleas don't get along, but it's been a natural part of the earth since life began here. Keep in mind that some people will actually use this inside - particularly if your pet sleeps in a certain area, you can dust the bedding and the carpet nearby and then vacuum it up after a few days. Get a smaller bag if you're going to do that.

I also got an e-mail from Ann, who wrote in:

"I was reading about how diatomaceous earth can be added to the soil to get rid of fleas. I have a pool that requires that I use this stuff in it. The first thing I was taught was that these little fossils are made of silicates - and silicates are basically glass. You might want to add that it is wise to make sure you do not inhale these little pieces of glass. It can cause your lungs to bleed...so I was told. I have no idea if this is 100% true, but I do know it is silicate which is glass. I know fiberglass isn't good to breath either. I put this all together and I assume my teacher is correct and I make sure to hold my breath when I have to use it."

This is something you want to be very careful about - do not use the stuff you find in your pool on your pets. There are different types of diatomaceous earth - the only kind that is completely safe is "food grade," which is designed to be eaten by farm animals to kill worms. This is safe to be around mammals, and this is what you should use.

You might still be safe to use the pool stuff around your house - I looked around and found this study that says there is a small, but measurable increase in the risk of lung cancer among people who worked mining diatomaceous earth for forty-five years. That's not extremely dangerous - smoking is a lot more dangerous, and yet one cigarette wouldn't affect your risk of cancer. Working in a mine for 45 years and inhaling it all the time is far more exposure than what you'd get. But other sites also pointed out that it can really irritate your eyes if it gets into them. This site has a good suggestion - wear a filter mask and a pair of goggles when you're using it - especially if you apply it indoors. However, overall, I would say that the best thing is to just not use the pool stuff at all. Stick with "food grade" and still try not to breathe it in, just in case.

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