You know the saying for many years, probably from a well-known homemaker magazine’s monthly column:

My Problem and How I Solved It!

I have ordered and received Diatomaceous  Earth.  (It took me a while to learn how to pronouce it.)  Here is info on this wonderful organic product that is going to help me combat the problem I’ve had in years past of the blowfly larvae attacking nestlings at night and thus causing anemia to those nestlings and potential death to them in the nestbox.  I am anticipating no more nest switchouts with this product!  I learned at the NABS conference last September 2009–thanks to Harry Schmeider and his presentation there–that if I use a few puffs of this organic powder inside a nest prior to nestlings hatching– that the larvae cannot survive and cause harm to the bluebird nestlings.   What I like most about this product is it is NOT a pesticide and is an all-natural product.  Here is a photo of what I have new in my trail tack box below.  My plan is to insert CAREFULLY this powder just prior to hatchlings.   One thing to watch on this is to make sure none of this powder gets into the nestlings eyes.  I think this is the safest way to administer this very fine powder.  I will still inspect the nestlings anyway during my trail checks to be sure they are developing normally. 

Fascinating reading–read here first to learn more:

The tools! This is a 2-lb. bag and pistol. You can also just use a plastic mustard or ketchup container that has the tip. I like this pistol. I ordered an extender for it so I can use it in the corners of the house behind appliances--all organic!

You can see how fine this powder is and the pistol I’ll be using to carefully administer the right amount at the bottom of a nest and in the middle inside the nesting material.   The second and third broods, if I have those on my trail, are the nests where the blowflies lay their eggs in birds nests.   I am really anticipating an easier way to deal with the problem for this season and forthcoming seasons.   I still keep a few extra natural clean bluebird nests on hand for emergencies.   I always try to be prepared on trail checks. 

Text on the bag. I also received a more detailed pamphlet on usage of this organic DE.


  1. Good Morning,
    I was reading your article and we have also tried DE to manage blowflys. Our success has been less than stellar. We live in Michigan and have been hit pretty hard by these nasty little things. It is our conclusion that the larve are not affected by the use of DE. If you are having success or if you have found something that works for you, we would love to hear from you.

    Thank you very much,

    Michael & Kelley


    • Hi, Michael. I wrote to you privately about this recently, but long-story short for the benefit of others reading here, just increase the short puffs of the DE powder (ORGANIC food-grade DE, not commercial pool grade) underneath the nest by the wood floor and distribute evenly in sections–a couple short puffs here and there and lift the tip up to the center of the nest and insert and a few more puffs in the center of the nest should do it–in center and to the sides a little bit in the nest materiasl where the larvae may try to sneak by avoiding center. I have found MOST larvae do go to the base of the nest, but some stay inside it. We don’t want hatchlings, or the male or female adult birds for that matter, to get any of the DE dust in their eyes or on their wings. Be sure to cover the nest FIRST before applying DE with some type of soft, clean cloth, completely covering the nest and eggs–keeps any of the DE dust from going inside the box and settling down on the nest and eggs. I suggest doing this BEFORE hatching. After the DE dust has settled and before removing the cloth that is laid over the top of the nest, just take your soft brush (I use a soft, small paintbrush) and dust away any excess DE powder on the edge of the nest material and on any sections of the wood and underneath the box AWAY from the box, then remove the cloth by pulling forward towards you and out of the box and immediately put that cloth into a plastic bag and close it, and then quickly close the box and leave. The female, who is incubating those eggs, should return shortly. I’ve had no loss of baby birds from this technique of applying the organic DE powder. I try to balance “not too much” application (no overdoing it!)but just enough to kill MOST (won’t be all) larvae. After I remove the nest after fledging, I inspect it, even dissecting it, to see how many larvae COULD have caused damage to the baby birds. GOAL: Kill larvae before they are large enough to latch onto hatchlings at night after the parents stop feeding. I hope to make a video on how I actually do this sometime in the future and posting it. It has been a time-saver for me, and a live-saver for the baby birds. ADDITIONAL NOTE: Sometimes the larvae survive and still get to the baby birds. As long as they can maintain strength to lift their heads and consume food, they will grow, develop the bones and feathers, and WILL fledge when they are ready…possibly a few days later than the average fledge age. When I monitor, I do watch their development. I estimate fledging dates to development. The earliest I’ve seen on my trail for healthy baby bluebirds is Day 15. The latest I’ve seen is Day 21. The average on my own trail in my locale is Day 17-18, weather permitting. If it’s raining or very cold or they see potential danger to their youngsters, the parents delay coaxing their kids out of the box.


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