Insect frass is a great organic method to help boost your plants immunities against harmful pests. It is one of the most bio-available sources of chitin. Essentially it is insect poop. Most commonly used is black fly excrement.
What is Chitin?
Chitin (pronounced “kitin”) is a is a primary component of cell walls in fungi and the exoskeletons of many plant invading pests including fungus gnats. It is an important component for keeping plant cell walls strong. Stronger cell walls help plants fend off pests and disease. It also seems to make the plant resistant to powdery mildew, certain root rots as well as root nematodes.
How does it work?
The basic principle is that when you introduce chitin into the soil it is absorbed by the plant’s roots. This tricks the plant into thinking it is being invaded by pests. The plant triggers an immune response which forces the plant to produce jasmonic acid, a hormone produced in response to pruning, which deters insects and pathogens from invading the root zone.
Insect frass also provide many beneficial bacteria including: Bacillus megaterium, Bacillus licheniformis, Oceanobacillus caeni-T, Bacillus fortis-T, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Bacillus subtillis, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Pseudomonas Putida and Paenibacillus polymyxa.
How to Use Insect Frass
The frass will come dried in most cases. This powder is easy to mix into a watering can at a rate of 1 teaspoon (5 grams) per gallon (3.78L) of water. As a root drench, you can make a frass tea with ½ cup (125ml) per gallon (3.78L). In vegetable or perennial beds, you can dig in the nutrients. Use 1 pound (0.45kg) for every 20 sq.ft. (6.92m) and work into soil deeply. Insect frass can be used as a drench, foliar feed, worked into soil, broadcast, or in a hydroponic system. It is easy to use and mild on plants.