This Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) includes deals on Butterfly Gardens for Children (no collection required), Plastic “bug totes” and 2 pound bags of insect frass. Insect frass is the polite term for the droppings that caterpillars produce when they feed on plant leaves or artificial diet. Insect frass is sold as a “Natural” fertilizer. Many of the Insect Frass fertilizers are marketed as containing 2-2-2 NPK (2 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphate and 2 percent potassium).
The lower concentration of nutrients in insect frass (compared to commercial fertilizer) is preferred by many organic growers because it is more likely to be retained in the soil than run off in surface water or leach into ground water. However, that is only true if the fertilizer rate of application is not increased.
Insect Frass is a waste product of insect rearing operations. Insects are reared for a variety of scientific and commercial uses. It makes sense to “recycle” the insect frass as fertilizer. However, the cost of the product may restrict its use to hobbyists who are not concerned about profits.
As for a Black Friday purchase (typically a day to purchase Christmas Presents) putting a bag of Insect Frass in the stocking of your significant other is probably right up there with a stocking full of coal. Insect Frass is an interesting product, but is suitable as a gift only for people with very special tastes.