Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

This is the time of year is when I get lots of questions about ways to eliminate fleas. Not just on pets, but also in yards and indoors.

There are a couple of safe and effective options for getting rid of these pests. Beneficial nematodes for the yard and food grade Diatomaceous Earth for indoor problems, as well as some outdoor situations.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a natural dry product made of microscopic fossils, ground diatoms, sourced directly from the ground and not artificially created. This very fine powder kills by grinding into the seams of an insect’s exoskeleton. As DE is absorbed into an insect’s body it wicks up vital oils and moisture that pests rely on. This process rapidly dehydrates the insect and causes death.

The good thing about DE is that no insect can build up an immunity to it as they can to synthetic products.

DE is not only effective on fleas, but also on ticks, roaches, spiders, bed bugs, silverfish, beetles, centipedes and all other insects that have exoskeletons. DE is also a great drying agent against slugs and snails.

Once DE gets wet it is not effective, but is effective again as soon as it dries out.

Synthetic DE products are available, but look for the all natural food grade forms, especially when using indoors, on pets or for human or animal consumption.

DE is a very beneficial soil additive too. It has been shown to improve water retention in potting mix’s, ground soils and especially sandy soils. DE acts as a holding agent that holds a greater bulk of water that slows drying in sandy soils.

Natural gardeners use DE because it is non-toxic and safe to use around children. Often used on all types of animals for fleas and other pests. It’s safe for all plants.

DE is not a carcinogen, but can irritate your eyes, lungs and nose membranes. Being such a dry powder it is very drying to the skin. It’s best if you wear gloves when applying DE.

Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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