Back in the day, the college daze that is, I took two entomology classes. I took the first one because I was required to. Then I took the second one because I wanted to.

Insects, as it turned out, were not as scary and creepy as I thought they’d be. They were really rather fascinating.

But in those two classes, no one ever mentioned the word “frass”. I would have remembered such a word. "Frass". I had to wait some 30 years or so later to find out about frass on another blog, Going Green Mama. Ever since then I’ve been like a five year old who just learned a new word.

You know what frass is, don’t you? It’s a fancy word for insect poop!

I’ve been looking for opportunities all week to use “frass” in a sentence…

“With all those cicadas in the trees, you should really wear a hat to avoid their frass dropping on your head.”

What is all the frass doing around the tomato plants? Hornworms, again!?”

“Oh frass! I forgot to stop at the garden center.”

Does anyone have a picture of frass that I can post on my blog?”

Has anyone ever studied frass to find out if it is like manure and provides nutrients for plants?”


Really, frass is sort of like a gardener’s secret cuss word.

For example, let’s say you step down on your foot real hard after it falls asleep and you end up twisting your ankle.  You can yell out, “Frass!” and no one will know you’ve just cussed.

Or when the neighbor kids are playing nearby and your garden hose kinks up on you again, you can freely say, “This hose is a real piece of frass!” Then the kids’ parents won’t get all mad because you taught their kids a cuss word, even though in a way, you did.

A gardener’s secret cuss word… this is one of the best new words I’ve learned in a long time.

Try it out for yourself. Let me know if you like it or if you think it is a bunch of frass.


"Frass" is a good word. I kind of like the word "scat" too. Now that I have a picture of!
You never heard of frass because you didn't have codling moths eating holes in your apples and pushing the frass up to the outside.

My favorite cuss is just saying "cuss" aka 'Fantastic Mr. Fox', e.g. "Let's kick the cuss out of those moths."
Garden Lily said…
In all my years of being bug crazy, I never heard of "frass" either. I have heard of worm castings. But "casting" is not nearly as suitable as a cuss word! Although I have to say "frass" sounds a little too much like a cuss word to really get away with it around the kids.
islandgal246 said…
It was only when I met my husband about 18 years ago that I came across this word. I had heard him and his mother talking about frass when we were looking for butterfly caterpillars. I was a bit puzzled at first then quickly realized what they were referring to. We use the frass without the 'f' as a cuss word in Barbados, so if I used frass I am positive it would be taken as frass without the 'f'.
lotusleaf said…
Thanks for teaching a new and useful word! Your post is delightful!
Frances said…
You have educated the blog reading public now, Carol! What an interesting word, but I agree with Garden Lily, it does sound sort of like a cuss word anyway to shout out at the grocer's when they are out of your favorite hummus. People would stare. :-)
Frances, a name too similar to frass if the fingers can't type well. Just sayin'.
I am sitting here giggling my head off first thing this morning. First your post then the comments are as funny. It just shows me that you all are full of frass this morning.
Gail said…
Carol, Love this word and have thoroughly enjoyed it popping up in conversations with you! Now if I can only teach myself to use it more~That would be fun. I do have a photo of caterpillar frass if you want to use it!
Does this give a new meaning to frazzled?
Layanee said…
Frass! I wish I had thought of this post. I love to start the day with a chuckle. Thanks,
Laurrie said…
Perfect. It has the right sound, the appropriate sibilance and all the attributes of a really useful bad word. Good question on its benefits. If worm castings and animal manure are good things, why not insect frass?
Joseph said…
I just laughed so hard I frassed myself.
Daricia said…
Frass is one handy word to know. Thanks for the vocab lesson - and the laughs.
Rose said…
Carol, your contributions to the field of garden education are worthy of an award! I've never heard of "frass" either, but this could come in very handy when the grandkids are around and I accidentally step on the rake that I carelessly left lying on the ground:)
Turling said…
There's a word for it? I just call it bug s&^%.
Cindy, MCOK said…
Well, slap my face and call me frassy!
Anonymous said…
It's a good word when playing scrabble, too.
Anneliese said…
I think I'm going to use the word frass at every possible opportunity from now on.

Now I know what to call the stains left by the fruit flies on the traps I make for them. Frassy little buggers!
400calendulas said…
I didnot know the word frass but in Janet Gillespie's book, Peacock Manure and Marigolds I came accross the idea that insect frass nourished soil just as the manure from cows, horses, sheep chicken etcetera. So now we havwe a name for it.I wonder if all languages have a words for insects droppings. Anyone have a Chinse, French or Swahili equivalent?
When annoyed at someone, just say "Oh yeah? Well, kiss my frass!" I admit it, I'm one of those with pictures of caterpillar frass. And earthworm frass is one of the best plant nutrients out there!
Commonweeder said…
Carol - once again you have educated and delighted us all. We just saw the Fantastic Mr. Fox and appreciated the use of the word 'cuss' - but this is more subtle, and more satisfying.
Floridagirl said…
I had heard that word many, many years ago. It's something young homeowners are taught to look for as an early sign of termite infestation. A result of growing up and living my whole life in the Deep South, I guess. I've never quite heard "frass" used in these ways though. LOL! I hate to tell you this, but I'm thinking anyone, child or adult, or heard that particular word, probably would assume it's a cuss word they've never learned, one of the 5-letter sort. It just sounds like it would be. Too funny!
Glad I could contribute in some small way! ;-)

And I fully intend to use "frass" ... until the 5 year old calls me out on using a "bad word!"
Diana said…
When I was standing under the crape myrtles I told my neighbor we had to step aside a little so we weren't getting grass droppings on us. She had no idea what I was talking about-- not sure she liked it better when I explained it! But I loved your suggestions 4 daily use!
I LOVE this word! Not that I really NEED another cuss word, believe me I probably use far too many of them in the ordinary course of events. It really is the perfect word to shout when you find the actual frass around the base of the squash plants when the squash vine borers have made their appearance: "Oh Frass!" I vow to use it instead of the less salutary alternatives I have been using instead!

Thanks for a fun and also educational post, Carol.
RURAL magazine said…
Oh too cool, I wonder if we can run around saying "I'm frassed", and have people think that we are meaning stressed.

Well after reading that again, someone is bound to think that I meant it the wrong way.

Kate said…
What a fantastic word! I'm definitely going to try to use it in my every day speech now. I recently received my Horticulture degree and took an Entomology class, but they never mentioned Frass!
ChiDy said…
Although I have to say "frass" sounds a little too much like a cuss word to really get away with it around the kids.

see, i was thinking just the opposite. i swear like a sailor, i don't have kids and that's just how i am in the garden. so when they come over this is the perfect word for me to have, and even straight and narrow religious grandma will only be able to purse her lips; i won't really be "swearing" or teaching the kids anything "bad." heh, thanks Carol.
fantastic word!, i like it , so interesting...Thank you for sharing it.
Kerri said…
I'll think of this word from now on every time my hose kinks...which is often. It's so much subtler than that other word that usually comes to mind.
Thanks for passing on the new gardener's secret word, Carol. It's going to come in very handy.
Thanks for the chuckle too :)