Wednesday, May 5, 2010

DE: Diatomaceous Earth

The first year we had alpacas, I found some DE, Diatomaceous Earth, that I had read was great to spread on poop areas to kill off parasites. My understanding of it is that it's crushed up shells that will cut up insects/worms/parasites and kill them. It is not harmful to the alpacas. Since I'm not a teacher, I'll post some quotes I found that describe it.

Here's what one site said to describe it:

100% Organic. Diatomaceous Earth is the finely ground fossils of prehistoric fresh water diatoms. Kills household and garden pests like cockroaches, ants, slugs, fleas, beetles and many other crawling insects. Works great indoors or out. Insects die within 48 hours of contact. Contains less than 0.1% Crystalline Silica. OMRI Listed for use in organic production

Another one:

Diatomaceous (die-uh-toe-may-shus) Earth, isn't dirt or earth, not even colored like it. It consists of the broken up shells of tiny critters, called diatoms, that lived long ago and died in groups so massive that they can, today, be mined and bull-dozed.

"DE", as diatomaceous earth is abbreviated, has the neat quality of killing insects (insectaside, as some say) It's perfect for natural insect control. (Unfortunately, it kills good ones, like bees and ladybugs, too, so its use shouldn't be indiscriminate.) It is 100% ecologically safe to the environment and non-poisonous to man and beast. In fact, if you've eaten anything made with flour (like Bisquick), you've eaten DE. It's used in commercial grain storage as a means of natural, poison-free, insect control.

I'm quite sure that the first year I found it at Tractor Supply. They only had it in the early spring, then they no longer had any, and I could not find it anywhere. Last year, I couldn't find it at all. When we did have it, I used it on the ground right after I scooped up poop. I figured it would kill any lingering parasite. We had no issues with parasites at all. I do think it helped. I also think it helped limit flies. I don't remember a lot of problems with flies. We have also heard of putting it in the alpaca's grain for them to eat, it is supposed to kill parasites in their intestines. The key being to make sure you buy food grade quality.

We finally found some this year at the mill in Cedar Springs. We bought two big bags:

We sprinkled it all over any place they have pooped, especially all over the older girls' shelter (those nasty girls love to poop in there). On the ground it looks like flour sprinkled about:

We need to research more into how much to put on their food, because we'd like to do that also. While it does kill parasites, it is not a chemical, so there is no worry about overuse which can lead to resistant parasites. I do love having it to spread about the poop scooped areas. It makes me feel like I'm doing something to limit parasites.

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