Everyday Cheapskate Mary Hunt

This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of “Debt-Proof Living,” released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

Got creepy bugs and crawling insects like ants, centipedes, cockroaches, silverfish or bedbugs trying to take over your home or garden? Need to know how to get rid of them? Don’t call an exterminator quite yet. I’m confident this is a problem you can fix yourself with diatomaceous earth — cheaper and faster!

FOOD-GRADE DE

If you want to treat your home to get rid of centipedes, spiders, ants, silverfish, cockroaches, fleas and all other creepy crawlies but you don’t want to poison yourself, your pets or the earth, your very best option is to use food-grade diatomaceous earth.

NONTOXIC, HIGHLY EFFECTIVE

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an off-white talc-like powder made of the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. If you could take a look at it through a microscope, you’d see that it resembles shards of glass. When sprinkled on a bug that has an exoskeleton (centipedes, ants, cockroaches, bedbugs and fleas) or placed strategically so the bug crawls into it, the DE cuts into the exoskeleton, which causes it to dehydrate and die.

ONLY OPTION FOR BEDBUGS

Bedbugs are parasitic insects that feed on blood. They’re a nightmare. Bedbugs can enter your home undetected through luggage, clothing, used beds and couches, and other items.

Typically, bedbugs hide in mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards where they have easy access to people to bite in the night. Fully grown, a bedbug is about the size of Abraham Lincoln’s head on a U.S. penny. Foggers are useless against these ugly critters because they are so good at hiding in places the fog can’t reach. Bedbugs are even resistant to expensive professional chemical fumigation!

Diatomaceous earth is the only effective option. It is all natural and safe to use around you and your family.

SAFE AROUND PETS, KIDS

Here’s the most amazing thing about DE: It kills bugs but doesn’t hurt mammals. You and your pets could eat it without harm. In fact, many people add DE to their daily diet to promote good health.

HOW TO APPLY

Using a flour sifter, a fine mesh strainer, a saltshaker or a pest control bulb duster, lightly dust the powdery DE in cracks and crevices; along baseboards, windowsills and door frames; beneath and behind appliances; in the garden and yard — anywhere you see those little pests. This is a nontoxic and environmentally safe treatment for bugs and insects, but please wear a face protector because it is fine as talcum powder.

For flea-infested carpet, dust the carpet well with the DE, and then pound it in with a broom. Leave it to do its job, and then vacuum the carpet very well after 24 to 36 hours, emptying the bag or dust collector often.

RESOURCE

Food-grade DE is readily available at garden centers and hardware stores. Just make certain you purchase food-grade DE, not the variety used in swimming pools, which has been chemically altered and will not work as a pesticide.

One last thing: To do its job as the most effective pesticide ever, DE must be dry. If it gets wet, clean it up, and then reapply.

You can find resources for pest control products and more information on how to treat bedbugs at www.everydaycheapskate.com/bugs.

This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014.

To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.