Diatoms are delightful. And without them, you can't breathe


The whole oxygen thing was just made up by liberal scientists trying to force their global warming agenda down our throats. I challenge you to show me one instance of the word oxygen anywhere in the Bible, or in the Declaration of Independence either. God doesn’t believe in oxygen - why should I?


When I was eight years old and “designing starships”, one of mine had a diatomic drive. Yeah. I didn’t read that science lesson very closely I guess.

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Got to the third image and started singing “Science Fiction Double Feature” out loud. My apologies to Elizabeth Ruck. I think her photo is absolutely wonderful!



I was thinking of the Mae West sofa, myself

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When on the web late night, certain movies creep into my mind. :smile:
It does match the exaggerated outline of the sofa, too! (Of course in my version the sofa would be distant cousin of the piano in House (1977).)

Diatoms are delightful in a different way as well. At least for humans (but not for ants)…

The prehistoric fossilized remains of gajillions of diatoms is known as Diatomaceous Earth. It has a number of uses, but how I learned about it was in response to a sugar ant invasion in my kitchen last year. You can put it into all the cracks and crevices that ants use to come in, and they don’t come in anymore. (It is not an insecticide, but rather has many sharp edges that cut through the waxy outer body of ants and other insects, and as a result they dehydrate and die. At least the ones who come into contact with it do, the rest figure it out and just go elsewhere…) My personal anecdotal evidence is that this stuff totally works. It is a little messy to work with, and you should wear a dust mask when applying it as it is irritating to the lungs and such, but it’s not poison and so far (knock on wood) the ants (who were clearly of the opinion that my kitchen was actually theirs) have not come back.

Yep! DE does work (I use it myself), but if using it in a home be sure to get “food grade”. Other types may have additives that aren’t good for you. Don’t just go to your local garden center, shop online for a retailer nearby or buy online. Never buy the DE that’s used for pools and then use it in your home - it’s really bad for you!

The way DE works is twofold. First, it’s hydrophilic - sucks moisture right up. So you won’t be attracting pest insects to your cabinets in the first place. Second, the tiny diatom corpses are made of silica, and they cut up the waxy coating that protects insects and holds moisture in. So an insect running across some DE loses its protection and gets dried out at the same time. DE takes a while to work, because it isn’t a poison. In fact, DE isn’t toxic, so it’s good for people who are chemically sensitive, pet beds, and the like. If you’re avoiding poisons, or want to practice integrated pest management, it’s a good tool.

That’s kinda true for fiberglass insulation and asbestos, too. For pretty much the same reason. I’m sure it’s safe, but it makes me wonder.

Oh yeah! I totally meant to mention the food grade part! Super important detail.

Also it helps to get a dispenser tool. There are several different kinds if you search on Amazon. Basically like a little bellows thing with a tube sticking out so you can puff the stuff back into the cracks and gaps. Still a bit messy but much more manageable.

Good point!

I just use a well-washed pickle jar that has nail holes punched in the lid. Painter’s tape keeps it closed when not dusting. :slight_smile: I store the reserve in a well-sealed plastic container. Because DE attracts moisture you want to keep it well-sealed and only have a small batch out at any point in time.

Agreed, and it is definitely an irritant. Nobody should go breathing in lungfulls of the stuff. That said, with basic precautions like a good dust mask it is (to the best of my knowledge) reasonably safe.

Catgrin mentioned the pool grade kind, which if I remember has other chemicals in it and has been heat treated to make it more fibrous, which is where the serious health risks come into play if I’m not mistaken. (Fiberglass is also silica fibers.)

Hi Andy :smile:

Food grade DE is both non-toxic and non-carcinogenic. It is an inhaled irritant (already discussed), and you want to avoid getting it in your eyes as well. I promise I wouldn’t make the claim without knowing what I was talking about. I spent my senior year of college working for the Entomology Extension Department at Purdue. My senior project was a web site for integrated pest management in schools.

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Another effective tactic is to mix boric acid and sugar into a water and leave it out for the ants to drink. If you don’t make it too strong, they will drink it, take it back to the nest, and share it with the others who will soon cease to be ants. If you do make it too strong, they will cease being ants well before they get back to the nest, which is a bit less effective overall.

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Boric acid is absolutely fine to use that way in homes where you have no children or small pets. While boric acid is not a carcinogen, it is a strong stomach irritant. Combining it with sugar water may encourage drinking, and that can cause nausea and vomiting.

Not only that, many ants feed cyclicly. They alter their taste from sugar to protein every few weeks as the young mature and have different food needs. That’s when pet food left out becomes a target. So, the boric acid sugar water may only attract the ants because of water content - not sugar. Water is the first thing that insects go for.

DE doesn’t work by eating it at all. It has no attraction that way. You use it by dusting possible points of entry lightly (like putting powdered sugar on a brownie), and then it works by the insects walking through it. If you have pets or children in the home, you can use it in the back of cabinets and in basements - it is wholly food safe (if you buy food grade) - and that means less dampness and a barrier to help prevent ever having pests in the first place.

You’re right, I should have included a warning about toxicity. We put them out where I know the cat won’t get to them. (Also, we have the place sprayed for children twice a year; they are much harder to eradicate than most insects.)

Thanks for the info on the feeding cycles, had no idea of that.

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No sweat :smile:

Glad to hear you’ve chosen to protect your home from those pesky kids!
(They get into everything!)

A lot of people don’t know about ant food cycles. Different ants eat different things (they have kiddies who are picky eaters). They all go for water, but that can attract other insects as well, so it can be hard to deal with them.

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