Mealworm Frass

What is insect frass, and where does most of it come from? 

Insect frass is simply insect poo. There are several different farmed insects that the frass can be collected easily. These include Black Soldier Fly, Mealworms and Crickets. We grow mealworms, and we believe that this gives the best type of frass for several reasons.


What are the benefits of using frass?

The main reason that you would want to use frass, instead of other composts or fertilizer, is that it contains a source of chitin. Chitin is found in the exoskeleton of insects like beetles and grasshoppers. Many fungi also use chitin in their cell walls. 

Using Chitin in your gardens, and on your plants will produce several effects. First, it will be used as a food source for beneficial fungi in your soil. Second, it will foster an increase in chitinase which has the ability to break down chitin. Together these two changes will lead to a higher level of resistance to harmful insects (especially those that live part of their life in soil) and even disease-causing fungi will be suppressed.


What are the different types of frass?

All insects produce frass. When choosing frass to use in your garden the main thing to remember is that the food that the insect eats will dictate the qualities of the frass. Below is a summary of the three most commonly available types of frass.

Black Soldier Fly (BSF) frass is commonly made using many compostable waste streams. It is very difficult to get pure frass from BSF, but it is usually part of the BSF compost that is produced. The larvae of the BSF are an excellent decomposer, and they will enhance any composting process. They also produce a hardy protein source for chickens and other animals in under 10 days from the egg being laid. Generally the frass of most BSF farms will be wet, mixed with compost, and a great source of chitin.

Cricket frass is mostly produced by the adult stage of a cricket. Crickets are commonly grown as a protein source in human food and animal feed, as well as a live food for pets. The main food source of crickets is green plants, so this results in a high source of Nitrogen. Since the most of this frass comes from the adults, there is not a very high level of chitin, but the overall mineral content is more balanced because of the food source.

Mealworm frass is the frass of the darkling beetle and their larvae (mealworms). Mealworms live in a dry environment so their frass is naturally more shelf stable than other types. Our mealworms are fed with wheat bran and potatoes from organic sources. This provides a good balance on nutrition, and because mealworms grow slower than BSF, the salt levels in the frass are low. Mealworm frass is quite high in chitin because each time they molt, the chitin will end up in the frass. 


How much frass should be used in the garden?

For any plant that is started early indoors, it is a great idea to add frass early. We recommend about 1 cup of our frass mixed into 1 cubic foot of potting soil before seeding your early plants. This will give an early start to seedlings and you will begin building immunity into the plant and the soil. 

When transplanting anything into your vegetable or flower garden, you can sprinkle a small amount of frass into each hole, and mix it with the soil. Since transplanting is a stressful time for a plant, it is good to add resilience with the immune benefits of frass. It has been proven that including chitin sources into your garden each year will continuously increase the immunity of your garden.

For the garden in general, you can spread frass on the soil near your plants before irrigating it into the soil. Be careful not to put too much in since it can result in crusting; you do not need much each time you apply. The final method of benefiting from frass is to brew it into a tea. This can be done like a normal compost tea or extract to produce a liquid that contains chitin, chitosan, and chitinase. All three of these are beneficial for your plants immunity. This can then be diluted with water and sprayed directly on the plant.


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