The Q&A Archives: Using Diatomaceous Earth on Strawberries

Question: Will diatomaceous earth control potato bugs? Is it harmful to humans? Can I dust strawberries with DE when they are bearing fruit? What other uses for DE are there? I use no chemicals in my garden. I purchase your product from Lowes building supply andthink they are the best seeds available. Thank you. Jim Schucker Chesapeake, VA

Answer: Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a mineral deposit of fossilized diatoms, or single-celled creatures that lived long ago. Essentially, it's sharp particles of silica that slice the bodies of insects, causing them to dehydrate. It's a general pest control, meaning that nothing is really immune to DE's slicing effect, "good" or "bad" bugs alike. It loses it's effectiveness when it gets wet, so you'll need to reapply it after rain or heavy dew. It can control the larval stage of potato bugs, but not the adults. I wouldn't use it on ripening strawberry fruits, since the sharp particles can become logged in the fruit. DE is harmless to humans unless you inhale a lot of the dust. I have heard of it setting off attacks in athsma sufferers. Always wear a dust mask when you apply it just to be safe.

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