DE or Diatomaceous earth is the organic desiccant that we use for treatment. The information provided below relates only to sources of DE that we have certified as appropriate for the work that we do, sadly there are rogues out there selling all sorts of materials labelled as DE which is why we need to make this clear.
There is nothing that can be added to DE to enhance its properties or abilities and we tested over 30 different suppliers until we found a suitable and stable source. Each batch is tested to ensure it performs correctly and monitored through our treatment service clients as well, this help ensure that our solutions remain effective on the populations of bed bugs you are likely to have encountered.
Diatoms which make up DE are the fossilised remains of single celled organisms, effectively single celled dinosaurs. The material when correctly used sequesters the lipids (fats) on the outer coating of bed bugs, causing them to dehydrate and die. It is a slow but effective process and generally takes 10-14 days and is as a result of the molecular and structural properties of the DE rather than its effect on the biology or biochemistry of bed bugs.
Like all things in life we would recommend taking the time to understand the products you are about to use before you start as its always easier to avoid mistakes in the first place rather than rectifying them later. As well as reading through the instructions provided in the kit you should have already viewed the following sections of the website:
You should also be familiar with the following:
- Use of gloves as personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Use of dust mask as personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid breathing in any airborne dust
- Use of eye protectors
Surfaces where DE is to be applied should be clean and dry and free from any build-up of dust and debris, this is not about applying and using liquid cleaning products but the use of vacuum cleaning and attention to detail with a stiff brush. Once applied to clean surface DE does not need to be “topped up” to be effective, it will only become ineffective if it is physically blocked by a layer of dust, this usually means annually in “normal homes” and those with OCD or behavioural based anxiety issues should specifically avoid over application and the establishment of unhealthy behaviours.
DE is applied as a fine powder, often so fine that it can barely be seen, if you apply as a thick layer or barrier of powder it is not effective. Bed bugs have great sensing abilities and would avoid a pile of loose debris in the same way that people do. As the mode of action of DE is physical this means that over- application is simply not effective. Unfortunately when people are anxious or in panicked states there is a tendency to lean towards the philosophy that “more is better” and that is definitely not the case here. The images below show a surface showing “untreated”, “treated” and “over applied” to illustrate how little is applied. This invariably makes it very difficult to create a video tutorial as in essence you would see very little difference.
Untreated Treated Over applied
If you do over apply DE sweep it up and remove it with a dust pan and brush. It is not advisable to just vacuum it up as the fine particles will often pass through a filters of a domestic grade cleaner.
DE is most effective when used in conjunction with Passive Monitoring as this helps to disrupt the life-cycle and limit population growth. When using Passive Monitors as part of your treatment process do not apply DE in the immediate area surrounding the monitor for optimal results. You should also consult in infestation dynamics section of your treatment manual as DE will not stop the introduction of bed bugs into your home, only you have the power to do that.