Original Paper

Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 79, Issue 3, pp 155-161

First online:

Efficacy of modified diatomaceous earth on different cockroach species (Orthoptera, Blattellidae) and silverfish (Thysanura, Lepismatidae)

  • M. K. FauldeAffiliated withDepartment of Medical Entomology/Zoology, Central Institute of the Bundeswehr Medical Service Email author 
  • , M. TischAffiliated withDepartment of Otorhinolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Bundeswehr Hospital Ulm
  • , J. J. ScharninghausenAffiliated withCollege of Public Health, University of South Florida

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Defined populations of American (Periplaneta americana), German (Blattella germanica), and Oriental (Blatta orientalis) cockroaches, and silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) were observed after exposure to deposits (25 g/m2) of a new 1,1,1–trimethyl-N-trimethylsilane-modified, highly hydrophobic diatomaceous earth (DE) formulation by using a computer-aided device measuring motility, circadian rhythm, and mortality under defined environmental and climatic field-simulating and exposure-enforced conditions. In a humid climate (85% relative humidity) with water and food offered ad libitum, complete population eradication could be achieved on the sixth day against B. germanica, on the eighth day against P. americana, and on the ninth day against L. saccharina, respectively. No population eradication occurred within 10 days of exposure when testing B. orientalis, showing a mean survival rate of 29.4 ± 6.7 % of the populations. When comparing the species-specific mortality rates with the results obtained from corresponding reference control groups, significantly higher mortality rates could be observed in B. germanica (F = 66; df = 52; P < 0.00001), P. americana (F = 344; df =66; P < 0.00001), L. saccharina (F = 253; df = 24; P < 0.00001), and B. orientalis (F = 422; df = 11; P < 0.00001). Overall, the efficacy of the hydrophobised DE examined ranked as follows: B. germanica > P. americana (F = 51; df = 24; P < 0.00001) > L. saccharina (F = 43; df = 24; P < 0.00001) >> B. orientalis (F = 9; df = 15; P < 0.000001). DE exposure resulted in complete disruption of the circadian activity in B. germanica and P. americana, but not when tested against B. orientalis, where the species-specific circadian motility peak was still preserved at lower levels after 10 days of exposure. In contrast to the cockroach species examined, no specific circadian rhythm could be measured in the L. saccharina control and treatment groups. Results indicate that hydrophobised DE originating from freshwater diatoms modified with 1,1,1-trimethyl-N-trimethylsilane can be successfully used for the control of infestations with German and American cockroaches as well as silverfish, but not against Oriental cockroaches. It is concluded that species-specific morphological, physiological and behavioural characteristics of insects influencing DE efficacy as well as the toxicological risk of modified DE to humans deserve further investigation.


Blatta orientalis Blattella germanica Diatomaceous earth Efficacy Lepisma saccharina Periplaneta americana