fleas, plague, death, fear and diatomaceous earth

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by paul wheaton, Jul 25, 2007.

  1. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    I'm not sure if this is proper use of this forum. I hope it is okay.

    I'm a certified permaculture designer and I'm pretty passionate about permaculture principles.

    Recently, I saw a terrible thing. Six rational, eco-friendly people, including two that are certified permaculture designers, became so afraid of flea bites that they paid $560 to have poison sprayed in their home and then they all moved out.

    While this story does tell you how to organically control fleas, the real story is about the power of fear and panic. There are web sites out there that prey on the ignorance of consumers and spin up a big batch of FREAK YOU OUT to get you to part with your money.

    I became consumed with the travesty of what happened and found that I had to write this article. I think it is pretty much done. I feel better to have gotten it out.

    Please take a moment to read this article. If only to get an idea of how we can all be duped into giving our money to the fear mongers (pesticide companies).

    https://www.richsoil.com/fleas

    Thanks!
     
  2. paradisi

    paradisi Junior Member

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    excellent read paul

    we suffer from plagues of "sand" fleas in the garden during the summer months. They never bother us but give our pup a hard time.

    We use a flea comb - he loves the extra attention each night and his bedding gets washed every couple of days. We can never get rid of the problem (some locals have suggested lime on the soil, but I'm not sure what all that lime will do to the multitude of fruit trees - any ideas??)

    He also has a neat trick - if the fleas are bad for him and we haven't noticed he stands at the shower door waiting to be asked to come in -
     
  3. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Have you put DE on his bedding? On him?

    I've read that you can buy a certain type of nematode for your soil that will somehow eliminate fleas.
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Great article 8)

    Brewers yeast and vacuuming will also rid a house of fleas. The yeast doesn't kill fleas afaik, but it repels them. You rub it into your pet's fur, and it breaks the life cycle because the fleas have nowhere to feed.
     
  5. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Very nice article. I'm just gong to neaten up one part of it:

    "I have heard two explanations of how it works... One is that on a microscopic level, the particles are very sharp looking. These particles stick to an insect and get stuck between its exoskeleton joints. As the insect moves, it gets physically cut up. The other explanation is that it sticks to the insect and somehow causes them to dry out."

    Both are true and connected. DE is almost pure silica (with some beneficial trace minerals); under a microscope, it looks like shards of glass (glass is made from silica). On any beetle-type insect that has a carapace, like fleas and cockroaches, the DE works under the shell and punctures the body, which then dehydrates and the insect dies. DE is totally nontoxic. There is no buildup of tolerance like there is to poisons because the method of killing is PHYSICAL, not chemical.

    I live in a flea paradise: warm and humid. At the first sign of a flea, I dust all my pets with DE, working it down to the skin. I do this weekly or every two weeks, mostly depending on the type of the animal's haircoat. My dog has a thick coat (Belgian Tervuren), and one cat has a bushy coat. I do them every two weeks. The smooth-haired cats I do every week, as I suspect their usual grooming removes the DE faster.

    Then I dust their bedding. Then I use a small-mesh wire sieve and lightly dust my carpets with the DE. Since the DE does tend to fly when I do the carpets, I use a simple drugstore face mask to protect myself.

    My vacuum uses those paper collection bags. The style is the most common kind here in the U.S., the F&G style. I find them in thrift shops very cheaply. But even if you buy them at full price, they're not all that expensive. When vacuuming during flea season, do the whole house, AND THEN THROW THE BAG OUT IN THE TRASH OR BURN IT. Saving something that cheap just so you can reinfest your house when the eggs you've collected have hatched inside the bag is a false economy.

    If you have some other kind of vacuum, just be sure to empty the collection container completely every time you vacuum.

    By the way, bubonic plague does crop up occasionally in the U.S., but its hardly a major menace. But our cancer rate has skyrocketed since the introduction of pesticides. I don't think its a coincidence.

    Sue the Flea Killer
     
  6. arawajo

    arawajo Junior Member

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    paradsi a neighbour of mine put lime down to get rid of fleas and her dog ate it and died. It was an old dog and the owner didn't break up the lumps of lime. Just thought I'd share that in the hope that no other dog suffers like he did.
     
  7. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Sue,

    How many years have you been controlling fleas this way (DE only)?

    Do you mind if I quote you in my article? If so, how would you like to be quoted (just name? web site? e-mail?)
     
  8. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Paul, I've been using DE for three years. A friend of mine that has 16 unadoptable cats from a rescue operation uses it, too.

    Just use my name, if you don't mind. I don't have the time to answer a lot of email questions.

    Sue
     
  9. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    I found this remedy for fleas about 15 years ago, and it's a lifesaver:

    Equal parts of Arm and Hammer baking soda and 20 Mule Team Borax powder. Mix together, shake into carpets, use a broom to make it disappear, keep the animals from walking on it before vacuming it. Leave it on overnight, and vacuum. Repeat in a week. Where I am in an arid warm climate I only have to do this once in early summer.


    I also put it into the carpets in the cars and on the floor of the dog house with a fabric covering over that. I don't want pets to lick it off their feet or fur. I also put it under the cushions of the couches, chairs, and between bed mattresses and leave it there, there are often a couple other bugs there as well, so it kills quite a few things.

    You can put small pet bedding into the freezer overnight if you can't wash it. You can freeze teddy bears and kids' toys that aren't washable. I wash all pet blankets and towels at least once a week. But I've found that even if the pets bring in fleas, they seem to hop off into the carpet and are never heard from again. :)
     
  10. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    Sue,

    I worked your comments into the page.

    I also updated the article a little in a couple of spots. The great thing about writing an article like this is that lots of folks chip in stuff and the article can evolve!

    Thanks again Sue!
     
  11. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    Because of the sharpness of the particles of diameteous earth, it can cause lung problems such as silicosis:

    https://depts.washington.edu/envhlth/inf ... thing.html

    "Checkoway directed an epidemiological study of lung cancer and silicosis risks in the diatomaceous earth industry in southern California.. In 1996, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) invited Checkoway to serve on its working group to review evidence for the cancer-causing potential of silica. He chaired its epidemiology subcommittee. The IARC review concluded that crystalline silica from occupational exposures is carcinogenic to humans. The most convincing evidence was for lung cancer."

    This article says not all DEs are the same:

    https://www.safe2use.com/safe-products/d ... _Earth.htm

    "Make sure the DE you use meets World Health Organization (WHO) safety standards. WHO cautions that DE with a crystalline silica content over three percent (3%) is dangerous for ingestion by humans or animals. Safe Solutions, Inc. DE has less than 1% free silica. Swimming pool DE ranges from 60% to 70% free silica."
     
  12. paul wheaton

    paul wheaton Junior Member

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    sweetpea,

    I read these articles.

    Do you think the amount of DE used for flea control falls into this category of danger?

    Do you think that working with DE dust is more dangerous than ... say ... flour or corn starch?

    I would think that working with any kind of dust is going to cause cancer just because they are all going to be lung irritants.

    At the same time, I think the focus of my article is about using fear to push toxins. In fact, I think the major articles on my site are a practical approach to getting people to use less toxic gick:



    • My article on lawn care (my first article about 12 years ago) is about having a great lawn with no pesticides and just a little (optional) organic fertilizer. This page has been up so long and has received so much traffic, and the response has been so good, I would like to think that the world has used hundreds of tons less toxic gick.

      The use of cookware that has that "non-stick" stuff on it has become epidemic. And I think that stuff is terribly toxic. So I am trying to evolve this article on cast iron to, hopefully, shift folks away from that toxic space.

    So I guess the point I'm trying to make is ... I want to do the right thing here. I want to evolve the flea control article to be accurate and to be a strong move away from toxins in a practical manner.

    Would you agree that DE is less toxic than borates or pyrethrins? After all, you can eat DE. Even up to 3% of your daily intake of food can be DE (although that would be a less than pleasant dining experience).

    It seems that the studies are pretty focused on silicates within DE and people who work with the DE every day for years. Are we talking about some minor improvements in working conditions will fix everything? Or are we talking about how nobody should ever buy or use DE?

    How does DE mining compare, to, say, limestone? Not as dusty, but right up there. And it is also mined.
     
  13. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    >>Do you think the amount of DE used for flea control falls into this category of danger?

    Well, what I think doesn't really count. :) Those studies done by reliable sources show that DE, which has tiny jagged edges, behaves differently in lungs and sensitive places. If animals have to lick and breathe it because it's on their skin, they are exposed just the way those workers are exposed. If people are putting it on pets, they are breathing it, too.

    >>Do you think that working with DE dust is more dangerous than ... say ... flour or corn starch?

    Flour and corn starch don't have jagged edges on their particles, so it wouldn't behave the same way in the lungs. I'm not advocating breathing flour and cornstarch...

    >>I would think that working with any kind of dust is going to cause ancer just because they are all going to be lung irritants.

    Not all dust is the same. Dust is made up of broken down particles of different substances, so what matters is what are those dust particles made of, where did they come from? There are many lung diseases, not just cancer. There's asbestosis, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

    Here's something interesting about hypersensitivity pneumonitis (farmer's lung):

    "Hypersensitivity pneumonitis (also called allergic alveolitis) is a disease in which the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs become inflamed when certain dusts are inhaled to which the person is sensitized or allergic.

    "These dusts contain organic substances, such as fungus spores from moldy hay or the droppings of birds.

    "When a person inhales such dusts the first time, no problem is noticed. But, after repeated exposure to the dust some people may develop symptoms. The tiny air sacs in the lung known as alveoli become inflamed, their walls fill with white blood cells, and sometimes the sacs fill with fluid. "

    >>Would you agree that DE is less toxic than borates or pyrethrins? After all, you can eat DE. Even up to 3% of >>your daily intake of food can be DE (although that would be a less than pleasant dining experience).

    I am not an expert to say which of these things is safer. The other article showed that it depends on the type of DE used. It's not all the same, and people need to know that.

    >>It seems that the studies are pretty focused on silicates within DE and people who work with the DE every day >>for years.

    Do you really know what's going on with these people? What people? Were they scientifically conducted studies that followed these people or is it just word of mouth? That's why it's important to read studies, do your research on it, and do it with an open mind so that your article is reliable.

    Just because we want something to be a safer alternative, doesn't mean it doesn't have its downsides. People all over the world are reading these things, can they rely on what you are telling them? I can't answer these questions, they are good questions, and it's really up to you to do the research. And it's also good to include footnotes that show the sources you got your information from so people can go on to read those as well :)
     
  14. sweetpea

    sweetpea Junior Member

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    UPDATE:

    I looked up my borax/baking soda mix for fleas, and Borax is toxic to cats, so I'm editing my info about the mix. It doesn't hurt dogs, although this methods does not involve putting it on the animal.

    I don't let the cats walk on the rug until I vacuum it, and I've never had a problem, but I don't think I'll use it after this.

    There are also lots of natural ways to clean things, also using borax and castille soap, and I'll be more careful to wash it all away so there's no residue.

    :)
     
  15. laurien

    laurien New Member

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    Paul Wheaton, how nice to see you 7 years ago, since I've only been following you for perhaps 2 or 3 years!
     

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