• How to Set Up a Home Compost Bin Using Black Soldier Fly Larvae


    Food waste is something people can’t entirely avoid. Even the most eco-friendly, efficient eater still throws away rinds, peels, cobs, the science experiment they forgot about in the fridge, and the occasional ravioli that dropped on the floor (although we believe in the 5-second rule around here). But instead of chucking that leftover quinoa in the trash and contributing more methane gas production to landfill waste, you can compost instead. 

    Photo: Adding black soldier fly larvae expedites the process of converting food scraps into a nutritious compost that is a wonderful soil amendment for gardens.
    A home composting system is a planet-friendly solution that helps cut down greenhouse gases, speeds up the decomposition process, lowers the volume of waste, and provides nutrient-rich soil for your yard and garden. Compost also reduces your need for fertilizers and pesticides.

    Adding black soldier fly larvae to your home compost speeds up the process even more. These amazing creatures are some of the most efficient consumers on Earth. Each larva can eat up to 200 mg of food waste per day* (that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s like eating your own weight in tacos), while also removing some toxic substances from your compost ( Attiogbe et. al, 2019). They can quickly break down initial waste by 50% in two weeks, under ideal conditions, blowing traditional methods of composting out of the water. (Amrul et. al, 2022). And they’ll eat almost anything, from fruits and vegetables to animal products–even animal waste. 


    Before getting your hands dirty, there are a couple of things you’ll need to decide before you begin:

    • Where will your compost be located? - You’ll need to select a mostly shady location in your yard that lets in at least three to four hours of full sun every day and that gives your bin access to uninterrupted airflow. If your bin will be near a fence or wall, keep the bin at least a foot away from it to help with air circulation.
    • What time of year is it? - Although you can set up your compost bin any time of year, black soldier flies prefer warmer temperatures and are most active at around 80°F. They cannot survive in freezing temperatures, and compost will significantly slow down during the colder months. Creating an ideal environment for BSFL is easy to do in the spring once the last frost has passed. If you’d like to maintain your colony year-round, check out our BSF farming blog here.


    A home compost doesn’t have to be some elaborate, fancy schmancy ordeal. You can use all sorts of containers to house your scraps and tiny diners. You can purchase a bin specially designed for composting or just use a large plastic storage bin from a home improvement store. Or, if you're crafty, you can build one out of wood (we hear pallets are pretty amazing compost holders). And if you’re super serious about soldiering, you can even find compost bins made specifically for black soldier flies. These are designed to help with the breeding and pupating process.

    Photo: Example of composting bin. Not so complicated, is it?

    A bin that’s about 1 cubic yard (3’x3’x3’) is just the right size to allow your compost to reach the ideal temperature to activate microbial activity and begin the decomposition process. If you’re building your own container, don't forget to include an opening at the top to add and mix your compost, as well as an opening on the lower side to get your compost out. You’ll also want to create drainage holes on the bottom of the bin to prevent moisture retention. Some people go the extra step and attach a drainage hose or tube to manage the leachate flow. 


    There are two kinds of composting material: brown, or organic matter that’s been dead a while, such as brown leaves, branches, hay, and eggshells. These materials provide the carbon that is necessary for decomposition. The other is green material, or organic matter that is ‘freshly dead.’ These include grass clippings, vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds, and manure. Green material provides the nitrogen your compost will need. 

    Photo: Green material - food waste that has not yet been digested by black soldier fly larvae can be collected in a bucket in your house and added to your outdoor compost pile periodically.

    You’ll want to layer these in a 2:1 ratio (2 parts brown to every 1 part green). Together, these create the ideal environment for both bacteria and fungi, the other ‘eaters’ that will feast on your waste. Too much green matter and your bin will start smelling like a rotted corpse. Too much brown and your compost won’t break down. Keep in mind that the recommended feeding rate for black soldier fly larvae is 4 pounds of material per day for 10,000 maggots (Terrell et. al, 2022). 


    Black soldier flies are omnivores that can devour meat and dairy products alongside plant-based kitchen scraps faster than a politician changes their mind. However, you’ll need to keep the ratio of animal products smaller, around 10-15%. Any more and your little dudes might not be able to gnaw through it before it starts to stink. If you find that your BSFL are munching through this material especially quickly, you can add in a little more until you hit a happy balance, but wait until the animal products have been broken down before adding in more. 

    Remember to cut up larger pieces of meat and cheese to prevent delayed decomposition. Bury animal product waste into your compost to prevent curious critters such as raccoons and coyotes (and other insects), from getting into your bin. 

    Photo: Leftover fruits and vegetables can be added directly to compost pile for larvae consumption.


    You’ll also want to add a little bit of water to your compost once a week. Moisture is essential to a healthy compost bin. Too much water and not enough oxygen will flow. Too little and decomposition will slow. A perfect moisture balance is when your compost feels like a wrung-out sponge. Dryer climates may need to add water more often, while very humid environments may not need to add water at all. 

    Photo: Adding water is crucial to a successful composting setup.


    You’ll want your black soldier flies to breed and make more larvae once they’ve made your compost bin their home. Attaching a piece of corrugated cardboard to the lid or side of your bin using some wire creates the perfect place to lay eggs, and will attract BSF mamas back to your compost. Once the eggs hatch, they should be close enough to the compost to fall directly down into it.

    If using a lid, you’ll want to cut or drill an opening to allow your black soldier flies in to lay eggs. Also create an opening near the top on the side of your bin that lets in sunlight, to allow for older larvae to escape and turn into adult flies. 


    This is the step that turns your average compost bin into a compost bin on steroids. The amount of soldier fly larvae you add to your compost depends on the size of your bin, but typical backyard bins do well with 5,000 neonate, or "compost-grade" larvae (we recommend the neonates because they are hungrier, do best growing on a variety of food, and have a longer period of eating than larger larvae). You can purchase compost-grade black soldier fly larvae here. And you know what? You've read this far, you deserve a treat. Use code COMPOSTLEARN at checkout to get 15% off your first order of compost-grade black soldier fly larvae.

    Photo: Black soldier fly larvae chowing down on a compost pile. They do the dirty work so you don't have to!

    You’ll want to turn over your compost once or twice a week to ensure oxygen is being replenished. Microorganisms (and BSFL) in your compost use aerobic action to live and decompose waste, which requires oxygen. Turning your compost lets your bin ‘breathe.’ 

    Photo: Example of compost setup that needs a good mix!

    To do this, you can use a shovel or pitchfork and turn over your compost like you’re mixing up a bowl of cake batter (ok, maybe not, but you get the point). If your bin is on the small side, a trowel will work. Some ready-made compost bins sit on an axle and have a simple hand crank to turn the bin, making it less messy and easy-peasy. 


    The compost at the bottom of the bin is what you’ll extract and use in your garden or lawn. It should be dark brown, crumbly to the touch, and look and smell like earth. If there are dead larvae in the compost, don’t worry, they won’t harm your garden, they’ll break down naturally. The frass (insect poop!) that BSFL leave behind is a potent fertilizer (READ OUR FRASS BLOG HERE).  Keep in mind that since black soldier fly larvae are so efficient, the amount of compost you yield will be significantly less than with traditional composting methods. 

    Happy black soldier fly composting, you environmentally conscious badass, you.



    Amrul, N.F.; Kabir Ahmad, I.; Ahmad Basri, N.E.; Suja, F.; Abdul Jalil, N.A.; Azman, N.A. A Review of Organic Waste Treatment Using Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens). Sustainability 2022, 14, 4565.

    Attiogbe, F.K.; Ayim, N.Y.K.; Martey, J. Effectiveness of Black Soldier Fly Larvae in Composting Mercury Contaminated Organic Waste. Scientific African 2019, 6.

    Terrell, C. and Ingwell, L. Vegetable Insects. Purdue University Extension - Entomology 2022.

  • Tips and Tricks: How to Care for Your Reptile

    Hey there, friends! This month’s episode of Symton Learn is dedicated to all you new and aspiring reptile owners out there! The following article contains crowd sourced, Symton-approved information we believe will set you up for success. Whether you’re a newbie or a nerd, Symton is here to help! 

    We’re doing this FAQ style, so feel free to skip to the sections you feel are most relevant to your needs. Remember, whilst we strive to provide you with the most constructive and valuable information possible, we encourage you to use this article as a launching point to support YOUR research. We do not and will never claim to know what is best for your pet- only YOU can make that call.

    Have any questions on topics we didn’t cover, or just want to talk to someone in the industry? You can and should reach out to us anytime, via our website, instagram, or email

    [The majority of the information in this article was supplied by members of the reptile industry and Symton employees. Thank you and full credit to all individuals who contributed to this blog post - your expertise is much appreciated!]

    The Tips and The Tricks

    What is animal husbandry?

    Let’s start with the basics, as the term ‘animal husbandry’ will appear frequently within this post and in your research. According to an article published in the National Institute of Health’s Library of Medicine, animal husbandry “refers to animal welfare and management. There are five main areas … in this subject--normal animal behavior, nutritional requirements, restraint, housing and management in disease.” 

    How do I choose what to feed my pet?

    A little research goes a long way! While each pet will have their own unique preferences for the kinds of food they like to eat, it helps to have google lay the groundwork. Keep in mind, every animal and species is different. What works for your leopard gecko won’t necessarily fly with beardy or mr. snake. Finding out what the most popular, available, and affordable options are out there will give you a better idea of where to start. 

    That being said, the fat:protein ratio is an important aspect to keep in mind. Overloading your animal with super fatty insects is not healthy in the long run. Try looking for a more balanced ratio or something with higher protein content. 

    Call a local veterinarian who specializes in the species and see what they recommend!

    Look into the prevalence of parasites found in certain feeder insects and keep an eye out for product sourcing.

    Just like humans, variety is key! Why not try a few different feeders, and let your pet choose? Symton's insect flight is a great way to try out new treats and staples.

    Do all reptiles eat the same thing? 

    Definitely not! Not all palates are created equal when it comes to reptile appetites. While some pets need specific kinds of insects in order to stay healthy, others can eat almost anything! Many reptiles have to make like popeye and incorporate plant protein into every meal (that means fruits and veggies, yall!) 

    In summary, reptiles can be herbivorous, insectivores, carnivorous, or omnivorous - they’re just cool that way! 

    Some of the most common eaters by category:

    Herbivorous (plant-based): Green iguanas, tortoises, spiny-tailed lizards

    Insectivorous (insect only): Geckos, chameleons

    Carnivorous (larger prey than insects): Aquatic turtles, snakes

    Omnivorous (plants and insects): Bearded dragon, many skinks, semi-aquatic turtles

    Source: (Cedar Creek Veterinary Clinic - Veterinarian In Williamston, MI USA, n.d.)

    What is one thing you wish you had known before adopting your first reptile?

    From space requirements to carpets to ailments, below you will find a few key knowledge nuggets from reviews we held with current and previous reptile owners. These individuals have experience with bearded dragons, skinks, turtles, geckos, pythons, boas, corn snakes, chameleons, and even toads! We asked them what they wished they had known BEFORE they adopted their first reptile, and here were some of the most significant takeaways:

    • “Care requirements are always changing with new science and research, and your care can always be improved in some way.”
    • “Fully research setup and diet plan ahead of time”
    • Reptiles won’t always display obvious signs of sickness or disease
    • “They need a lot more space than most people say they do.”
    • “I wish I knew about how bad reptile carpets were, they’re a great surface for bacteria to grow and reptiles to get their nails caught on.”

    What are some signs of common ailments reptiles can suffer from that I should be aware of?

    We all want what’s best for our pets and to feel prepared when things go awry. Just like us, reptiles are susceptible to illnesses that can, of course, be treated, if you know what you’re up against. Therefore, it’s generally a good idea to have at least a basic grasp on the common ailments that can affect your reptile, and how to detect them. 

    Metabolic Bone Disease: A very common illness, especially for rookie reptile owners! This disease causes weakening of bone structure due to abnormal amounts of bone “building block” nutrients, such as calcium. Reptiles who have contracted this disease appear to have swollen or bent limbs which can drastically alter their quality of life. Luckily, it is completely avoidable by dusting with calcium powder as directed by your vet or local pet store.

    Upper Respiratory Infections: Keep an eye out when established eaters suddenly refuse food, as well as excessive mucus from the nose, mouth, or eyes, lethargy. Look for wheezing and/or loud breathing in snakes, who are particularly prone to respiratory infections.

    Parasites: Common symptoms include poor appetite, weight loss, but of course the biggest indicator is abnormal stool if it is an intestinal parasite (i.e. worms in the stool).

    Short Tongue Syndrome (Toad-specific): A lack of vitamin A can cause this adverse condition which makes catching live food more difficult.

    Burns from improper heat source: Blackened skin, ulcers, sores.

    Malnutrition: Underfeeding or nutritionally incompetent diets will cause adverse effects to your pet. Lethargy and generalized weakness can be indicative of a variety of disorders, including malnutrition. Lizards will lose fat in the mid-body and base of tail, bearded dragons have a fat pad atop their head that appears to deflate. Obesity can be caused from overly fatty foods and can lead to gout.

    Fungus: Arboreal lizards such as geckos and chameleons need to be sprayed with water regularly in order to ingest water. However, too much humidity in the air can cause fungus growth. Placing a screen atop the enclosure provides an easy remedy.

    ***Many reptiles hide illnesses extremely well, and often do not outwardly display symptoms! Regular check ups can make a huge difference in ensuring the health of your pet as well as your peace of mind.

    How often should I feed my reptile?

    The short answer to this question is: diet is species specific. Feeding frequency varies anywhere from multiple times daily (tortoises) to once every two to three months (adult Burmese pythons)!

    That being said, it is a general rule of thumb that younger reptiles will need food more often than their mature adult counterparts.

    Start with a basic feeding plan that is specific to your pet’s species. Then, take some time to watch for behavioral cues that may indicate the unique patterns and preferences of your pet. Maybe Gilbert the Gecko goes CRAZY for hornworms but won’t touch the crickets, even after 24 hours. Sure, Bathilda Beardie will always eat her cucumber-lettuce salad, but she really thrives with that extra daily dose of BSFL. When Devonte was just a young ball python boy, he enjoyed small mice and even crickets at least once a week, but now that he is a strapping man of 5, he may content himself with a full-sized rat every 30 to 40 days. His twin sister, Delilah, however, will enthusiastically consume her rat every 3-4 weeks, if it’s offered!

    I have, or want to adopt, more than one reptile - Can I put them together in the same tank?

    Cohabitation is possible, albeit rare, and for beginners is not generally not worth the risk outside of known communal species. Skinks, for example, are typically able to be housed together, and can even benefit from the socialization! (Exception: Blue Tongued Skinks do NOT cohabitate). However, you should definitely consult an experienced reptile owner or professional before placing animals together in the same space

    There are a few, very specific situations where animals of different species can be housed together. These include anoles and frogs, certain insects and bioactive reptiles, as well as fish and reptiles. In these instances, please obtain a professional second opinion, at minimum (you can even reach out to us, if you’d like!) It may seem like work now, but the health and survival of your pet are worth it (we promise!).

    Note: Most lizards are solitary animals, and males are known to act aggressively towards each other when sharing the same territory.

    Sure, you will always find arguments such as “well they’ve been together since they were babies” or “they just get along so well!” However, even if those animals don’t actively fight or go near each other, they may still show subtle signs of stress because they share the same space. This can contribute to a general decline in their health over time.

    If you do find yourself in a situation with a known communal species and have been given the green light for housing them together, it is super important to make sure each animal has just as much space to occupy as if they were on their own. Cohabiting animals for the sake of “saving space” is cruel and unfair to your pet. 

    What are some of the most popular reptiles people have as pets? 

    We’ll start this section off by noting that bearded dragons are actually the third most popular pet in the United States, after dogs and cats. Take that as you will. Nevertheless, there are tons of incredible species to choose from, the most common of which are:

    Leopard geckos

    Crested geckos

    Blue Tongue Skinks

    Green Iguanas (intermediate-advanced care required)

    Corn snakes

    Ball pythons

    Bearded Dragons

    This list is merely the tip of the iceberg! When choosing a pet, we always recommend you select a species who has husbandry equal to your skill level and space requirements that you can adequately provide for. 

    Check out a reptile rescue or animal shelter near you - it’s not just cats and dogs that need homes! Symton donates to a growing list of reptile rescues that can be found here

    If you are looking for a very specific species, reptile conventions are popular within the industry and can be found across the U.S. throughout the year. Choose breeders with care.

    Advice from the pros

    Are you new to the reptile world? Ever wanted to get first-hand advice but no one in your circle is a lizard? Darn. But hey, once upon a time, we were all in the same boat! Luckily for you, we’ve gathered a few tidbits from our now heavily experienced reptile-y friends that are definitely worth the read. Take a look.

    What is one significant learning experience you've had working in the reptile industry and/or as a pet owner?

    “Husbandry is ALWAYS changing and improving. Always be open to updating your setups and methods of care as new and better information becomes available. Just because your animal has been surviving at a certain level of adequate care doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from improvements so they THRIVE.”

    “I did not have any experience with reptiles before working at Symton. Here, I was able to learn how to take care of multiple species like bearded dragons, leopard geckos, and a blue tongue skink and how each one has different needs. Also, working with coworkers who owned other reptiles or had more experience and listening to their advice/ knowledge helped me gain a better understanding when it came to the reptile world.”

    “Take all advice lightly until you can find data on the reasoning and benefit of it. There is lots of scientific research out there that helps advance reptile husbandry. Just because someone is a breeder doesn't mean they are caring for their animals properly, lots of species can breed in stressful and improper conditions. If someone's evidence for a care method is along the lines of "we've always done it this way" or "I've been breeding/keeping for 20 years" it's usually coming from someone with outdated husbandry that hasn't looked into much recent research.”

    “I guess learning about bioactive enclosures. They are so much easier to maintain than just a regular enclosure, imo, and they look so much nicer!”

    “It’s always important to improve your care and keep up to date with new discoveries for reptile care.”

    Miscellaneous pet care hacks - Go!

    “Buy your supplies like light bulbs and fixtures from Home Depot, Lowe’s, or other non-reptile companies. They are exactly the same and so much cheaper.”

    “If you have multiple animals like myself, get a white board or make a spreadsheet with everyone’s feeding/watering/cleaning schedules. And even if you have one animal, “meal prepping” for them where possible is a great time saver and allows for better efficiency. Also if you’re ballin on a budget and can’t/don’t want to do a bioactive setup, goodwill is a gold mine for fake vegetation as a price way more affordable that what they sell at the pet stores. Just make sure you give it a thorough wash beforehand!”

    “Modified indoor grow tents make great cheap, large enclosures for bigger reptiles. Despite what most think, they're extremely thick and sturdy and are made to have a controlled environment inside. They have lots of ventilation that can be opened or closed, and can handle the weight of lights and branches hanging from the ceiling. You can DIY a lot of things to save money and often times the DIY stuff works better. A few examples would be things like waterfalls, backgrounds, or systems to simulate rain.”

    “Put calcium powder in a salt shaker! Get fake plants at craft stores/ the dollar store!”

    “You can use cabinet liners as substrate for your reptile if you are a beginner, they look nicer than paper towels or newspaper.” **non-toxic only**

    “DO YOUR RESEARCH AND ALWAYS CONSULT A VETERINARIAN IF YOU ARE UNSURE ABOUT ANYTHING or to double check that what you have researched is accurate!!”

    “Reptiles are amazing pets and you shouldn’t be nervous to get into them as a passion/hobby if you want to. As long as you’re prioritizing your own education and animal husbandry BEFORE getting an animal you’ll do just fine :)”

    Symton wishes each and every one of you the best of luck on your pet care journey! Let us know which parts of the article were most useful by commenting on the post below, DM-ing us on instagram, or shooting us an email. Did we miss anything? Tell us that too! Thanks for reading and happy Learning!!!

  • Crickets vs. Black Soldier Fly Larvae

    Greetings, Symtonians and welcome to another segment of Symton LEARN! This month we decided to compare two beneficial feeder insects to provide you, our lovely audience, with helpful information in choosing the best option for your pet.

    Introduction to Feeder Insects

    Reptiles, as exotic and fascinating as they are, have equally diverse and specific dietary needs. When it comes to their feeding, it's essential to understand that one size does not fit all. What may be the perfect diet for one species might not be as suitable for another.

    Insects, often referred to as feeder insects, make up a significant portion of the diets of many reptiles. These insects provide essential nutrients like proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, contributing to the overall health and longevity of your scaly friend. This blog series aims to compare different feeder insects to one of the rising stars in reptile nutrition - the Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL).

    A Closer Look at Crickets

    Crickets are a classic choice among reptile enthusiasts. Widely recognized for their characteristic chirping, they serve as a primary food source for a plethora of reptiles including bearded dragons, geckos, and anoles. Their active behavior not only provides necessary nutrition but also stimulates reptiles' natural hunting instincts.

    However, a critical consideration for reptile owners is their nutritional composition. While crickets offer abundant protein and essential vitamins, their higher phosphorus-to-calcium ratio necessitates a more balanced dietary approach, often requiring additional calcium supplementation.

    Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL)

    Black Soldier Fly Larvae, commonly known as BSFL, are garnering attention in the herpetological community for their impressive nutritional benefits. These larvae stand out due to their high calcium content, which is instrumental in preventing metabolic bone disease, a common ailment in reptiles. Their low-fat content further promotes healthy growth and development.

    When it comes to practicality for pet owners, BSFL offer a significant advantage: they don't escape easily. Unlike other feeders that might require more meticulous containment, BSFL stay put, reducing the chance of them invading unintended spaces. This ease of management, coupled with their nutritional edge, makes them an increasingly popular feeder choice.

    Crickets - Pros and Cons

    Crickets are a favorite choice among reptile owners, valued for their wide availability and the natural hunting stimulation they provide to pets. Yet, it's crucial to note their nutritional challenges, particularly their high phosphorus to calcium ratio. Additionally, leftover crickets can pose risks, potentially stressing or harming reptiles if not managed.



    Easily available

    Can bite and stress reptiles if left uneaten

    Stimulates hunting instincts in reptiles

    Higher phosphorus to calcium ratio

    Good protein source

    More likely to contain parasites

    Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) - Pros and Cons

    BSFL, while being a power-packed source of nutrition, are not without their own considerations. They have gained significant attention for their calcium-rich content and low-fat profile, but it's also essential to be aware of their potential limitations.



    High in calcium, promoting strong bone health

    Might not stimulate hunting instincts as much as live, moving prey

    Low in fat, supporting lean growth

    Some reptiles may initially be hesitant to eat them due to softer texture

    Easy to store and maintain

    BSFL can produce a noticeable smell if not kept clean

    Comparing Crickets and BSFL

    When comparing Crickets to BSFL, it's clear that both offer unique benefits. Crickets stimulate hunting instincts in reptiles, providing both nutrition and entertainment. BSFL, on the other hand, boasts a high calcium content, promoting better bone health in reptiles. The choice between the two often boils down to the specific needs and preferences of the reptile and the owner's convenience.

    Please remember, this comparison serves as a guide, and it's always important to consult with your vet before making any major changes to your reptile's diet. Moreover, every reptile is unique and may have its own preference when it comes to feeder insects.

    Try BSFL Today!

    We understand that choosing the right feeder insect can be challenging. Why not let your pet be the judge? 

    Get 50% off your first order of Black Soldier Fly Larvae today and see how your reptile likes them! Remember, a happy, healthy pet is the best kind of pet.

  • Sassy. Frassy. Keep it Classy.

    What is “frass” and why should it be in your garden?

    Hello and good day fellow Symtonians! Welcome to this month’s Symton LEARN segment, where we create content to educationalize your brain with bug stuff! Seriously, we’re excited to be growing and learning alongside you as we dive into topics related to sustainability, agriculture, and of course - insects! Last month, we learned all about our trusty pal, the black soldier fly. Thus, we thought it most fitting to dig a little deeper into what this amazing insect can do, starting with…


    AKA, insect “frass”

    One of the lesser known, yet important benefits of the black soldier fly larvae lies in its ability to convert low-quality organic material into high-quality fertilizer. Yes, that’s right. We’re talking about bug feces. Here’s why it's cool:

  • It is a substantial source of plant-digestible chitin
  • Helps fight disease, pests, and other pathogens
  • Recaptures nitrogen and phosphorus to be used as fertilizer
  • Aids in balancing the pH level in soil
  • Contains various types of beneficial microbes and nutrients
  • Reduces heavy metals from waste stream
  • Symton BSFL frass is 100% organic

  • Frass and Nitrogen

    One study showed that the highest nitrogen uptake in vegetable crops was achieved by using frass, and proved especially powerful when combined with NPK supplements. However, frass alone outcompeted its commercial competitor, Evergrow (Anyenga, A.O. et al, 2021). This is important because plants need adequate amounts of nitrogen in order to grow! Not only that, but they need it in a form that is “digestible”- frass fertilizer contains tons of beneficial microbes which support the mineralization process of nitrogen, allowing your plants to thrive. 

    Frass and Chitin

    Frass may have a lower NPK ratio than many commercially available fertilizers, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in chitin. It is one of the only sources of plant-digestible chitin, as the frass itself is essentially broken down plant material, embedded with all sorts of beneficial microbes and minerals fresh from the gut microbiome of the larvae that processed it. Chitin is responsible for regulating and stimulating plant growth, inducing or enhancing defense mechanisms in plants, disease control, and much more (Shamshina, et al, 2019). Frass is a powerful tool that sustainably supports your plants’ long term health by releasing its nutrients slowly. Ever heard of living soil? BSF Frass is a key contributor, and scientists all over the world are jumping to learn more (Kenyan Agripreneurs:

    Frass and Heavy Metals

    In an increasingly urban environment, fungal and bacterial diseases aren’t the only problems we face as agriculturalists. Heavy metals intoxicate our soil, our waste, and our waters. However, black soldier fly larvae boast the super-power ability to accumulate heavy metals into their tissues, thereby removing it from the environment and preventing it from re-entering in their waste product: frass. In one study, researchers tested BSFL by adding toxic levels of mercury to the food they ate and monitored what came out on the other end- a non toxic byproduct (Basri et. al, 2022). This was a turning point in BSFL research, as it proved that one insect had the capability to remove, or significantly reduce, heavy metals present in our waste streams. Something to think about when considering frass against common synthetic fertilizers, which often contain toxic elements and directly contribute to the global waste problem. This research is an excellent example of how insects can be used to prevent toxicity in the things we consume!

    How much Frass do I need? 

    Frass can be beneficial, but should always be used in the proper amount: 

    Approximately 1 cup of frass per 1 cubic foot of soil OR

    ½ - 1 cup of frass for 1 gallon of potted soil OR

    ½ cup of frass for 1 gallon of water

    To make frass tea, let the frass steep in water for 2-5 hours before application. Thoroughly drench the base of the plant and avoid hitting the foliage. Refrigerate leftovers for up to one week. 

    For ongoing treatments, take a small handful of frass and gently massage it into the surface soil. Repeat once every month or so.

    *Remember, frass is a highly concentrated substance and can be toxic to plants if overused or overapplied. Use in moderation.

    Different plants will produce different results, but remember: using frass is the best way to help your soil help itself. Anyone can use frass- we sell 5lb, 10lb, and 20lb bags right on our website with affordable shipping anywhere in the United States.

    A Frassy Experiment!

    Over the last few months, we collaborated with local New Jersey gardener Elyse Schear on a frass experiment in her vegetable garden! Elyse is a retired research librarian with a green thumb who was excited to test the powers of bug poop for the first time. In May, she planted the seeds of three vegetable crops in large pots in her outdoor garden: Mizuna lettuce, spinach, and cabbage. Two tablespoons of frass were added to the soil of each plant-to-be. Each vegetable had a twin that she used as the control (no frass), so that a proper comparison could be made for each type of plant. 

    Elyse reported back in July with interesting results: both the cabbage and Mizuna lettuce plants benefited from an application of frass, noticeably outgrowing its frass-less counterparts. The spinach, however, did not seem to respond to the addition of frass. This can be due to a variety of factors, as plants are highly dependent on circumstantial elements like regional soil quality, humidity, inclement weather, watering schedule, pests, etc. We encourage you to try your own experiment this growing season, and let us know what you find! 


    Mizunah lettuce with frass (left, top) and without frass (right, bottom). June 2023. Elyse Schear.

    Cabbage with frass (left) and without frass (right). June 2023. Elyse Schear.














    Spinach with frass (left) and without frass (right). June 2023. Elyse Schear.

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