ExoTerra - Frass

Frass is an informal term and accordingly it is variously used and variously defined. It is derived from the German Fraß, a past participle verbal noun of fressen, which means to gobble or to feed as an animal might.[1] The English usage derives the idea of excrement from what larvae had eaten, and similarly also, the refuse left behind by insects. Such usage dates back to the mid nineteenth century.[2] In modern technical English sources differ on the precise definition, though there is little actual direct contradiction. One glossary from the early 20th century speaks of "...excrement; usually the excreted pellets of caterpillars."[3] In some contexts frass refers primarily to fine, masticated material, often powdery, that phytophagous insects pass as indigestible waste after they have processed plant tissues as well as their physiology would permit.[4] Other common examples include the fecalmaterial that insects such as the larvae of codling moths leave as they feed inside fruit, or that the likes of Terastia meticulosalis leave as they bore in the pith of Erythrina twigs, or the larvae of Cerambycidae or powder post beetles leave inside or below their tunnels when boring in solid or rotting wood.

In a significantly different sense the term also may refer to excavated wood shavings that carpenter ants, carpenter bees and other insects with similar wood-boring habits kick out of their galleries during the tunneling process. Such material differs from the frass residues of foods, because insects that tunnel to construct such nests do not eat the wood, so the material that they discard as they tunnel has not passed through their gut.[5]

Various forms of frass often may be seen in the tunnels of leaf miners, in rotting wood, under dead bark, or under plants infested with caterpillars.

Ecological considerations[edit]

Contact with frass causes plants to secrete chitinase in response to its high chitin levels.[citation needed] Frass is a natural bloom stimulant,[citation needed] and has high nutrient levels. Frass contains abundant amoebae, beneficial bacteria, and fungi.[citation needed] Accordingly, it is a microbial inoculant, in particular a soil inoculant, a source of desirable microbes, that promotes the formation of compost. It is an important recycler of nutrients in rainforests, and favours plant health.[citation needed]

What is Insect Frass?

Insect Frass is insect poop (like guano or castings) But unlike bats or birds, Insect Frass actually comes from plants. In all natural ecosystems (where there are no man-made chemical pesticides), insects feed on and digest vegetation, and give it right back to plants in the form of nature's perfect plant food. Plants benefit insects - Insects benefit plants!

Frass Pellets

Insect Frass is 100% Organic plant food, and so much more...
Insect Frass naturally contains the nutrition plants require, beneficial micro-organisms, and the only immediately plant-available source of chitin (pronounced “Kite-in”). Chitin fortifies a plant from the inside out, causing an "auto-immune" response that signals a plant to produce natural toxins which fend off its natural enemies like pests and fungal pathogens. The EPA says that chitin and chitosan (see FAQ's) defend against botrytis (grey mold), powdery mildew, early and late blight, fungal pathogens in the root zone (root rot) and root-feeding nematodes. Insect Frass does NOT cause a plant to kill beneficial insects or beneficial nematodes.

Insect Frass is NOT a pesticide.

Insect Frass is NOT a fungicide.

Insect Frass will NOT put insects into your garden.

Give your plants all the benefits of Insect Frass, without the bugs!




Q: What is Insect Frass?

A: Insect Frass is the excrement of herbivore insects.

Q: What do you feed the insects?

A: Vegetables, Cactus and Wheat Bran

Q: What are the little golden flakes and little black bits in the Frass?

A: Insect exoskeleton parts. They get through the sifter due to their size. They are beneficial.

Q: Does Insect Frass work with hydroponics and soil?

A: Yes, follow the particular Feeding Chart on the next page. Click on the tab above "Using Frass" to learn how to use Frass with other recommended organic inputs to improve yield and flavor. Go 100% Organic!

Q: How do I use Insect Frass?

A: It’s best to pre-mix into a growing media or soil, but if you’re plants are already started, add Insect Frass to water and root drench, or top dress and water thoroughly. See Feeding Chart by clicking above on "Using Frass" for specific directions.

Q: Will Insect Frass work as an Organic base-nutrient source?

A: Yes. All you need to add is a little gypsum or calcium carbonate (depending on your pH), and a little Nitrogen in the vegetative growth phase. See Feeding Chart.

Q: Can I use Insect Frass in my compost tea?

A: Yes. Insect Frass is a superb fungal food. Substitute for fish hydrolysate.

Q: Should I use Insect Frass foliarly?

A: Yes. Add just 2 teaspoons per gallon water. Let sit for 30 minutes, then apply.

Q: Is Insect Frass 100% soluble?

A: No. If you’re using a drip system or using foliarly, make sure to strain Insect Frass with a sock or women’s nylon. If you don’t have a strainer, you can put Frass in a container with water, stir, let sit for 30 minutes, then use just the top portion. The solids will settle at the bottom of the container.

Q: How do use Insect Frass is I have a drip system? 

A: Pre-mix Insect Frass into your grow medium if possible. If your plants are already started make an extract by putting ½ cup per gallon water for full strength organic nutrient base, and root drench by hand into each plant. If you’re using a separate nutrient feeding program only use 1 tablespoon per gallon.

Q: What is Chitin?

A: Chitin is a naturally occurring molecule (Poly-N-acetyl-D-glucosamine). Structurally, it is related to cellulose, which consists of long chains of glucose molecules linked to each other. Chitin is present in the shells of all crustaceans and insects, and in certain other organisms including many fungi, algae, and yeast.

Q: What makes insect Chitin better than crustacean Chitin?

A: In simple terms, insect chitin is the form used by plants in nature. Crustacean chitin is trapped in the calcified shell. In order to get the chitin from inside the calcified shell, it must be boiled in potassium hydroxide (certainly not organic). On the other hand, the chitin in insect frass is broken down by the plant naturally, by the chitinase enzyme produced by the plants own immune-response-system. That’s organic!

Q: What does Chitin do for plants?

A: Chitin triggers a plant’s immune-response-system causing the plant to defend itself from pests and pathogens. Chitin is a natural biopesticide, and is known to kill root-feeding nematodes and their eggs, and fungal pathogens in the root zone. When plants sense Chitin in the vicinity, they think they are being eaten by insects, so the plant protects itself by strengthening its cell walls, produces more chute biomass (stalk and leaf material) and excretes secondary metabolites to ward off pests and pathogens.

Q: What is Chitosan?

A: Chitosan is the plant available form of Chitin, and it is created when the plant’s immune-response-system excretes a natural enzyme called Chitinase, which breaks down Chitin into Chitosan, which is a plant growth enhancer and a substance that boosts the ability of plants to defend themselves against fungal diseases such as downy and powdery mildew, botrytis (gray mold), and early and late blight when applied foliarly (and in our experience it also kills fungus gnats, mites, white flies, etc. Just about any pest that eats plants).

Q: What if I just want the benefits of chitin and not use Insect Frass as a base organic nutrient?

A: Use less. Up to 1 tablespoon per gallon for foliar or root drench.

Q: Where can I buy Insect Frass?

A: Right here on our site or you can ask your local hydro store or nursery to request Insect Frass from their distributor.  If they can’t get it for you, or you just can’t wait to try it, email us from our website for a free sample and mention which store from which you would like to purchase it, and we will make every effort to get them to carry it!


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