How to Keep Ants Off Okra

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Wear closed shoes when dealing with fire ants to prevent stings.
Wear closed shoes when dealing with fire ants to prevent stings. (Image: Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Regular ants do little to hurt okra plants. Most invade the garden following harmful pests such as aphids, because they enjoy eating their secretions. Common ants can be controlled by reducing the aphid population. However, fire ants eat the base of developing blooms, which causes the plant to stop producing, according to Texas A&M University Extension. It is important to eradicate fire ants from your okra to prevent a reduced yield.

Things You'll Need

  • Ant bait
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Sticky tape

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Fire Ants

Follow the line of fire ants coming and going back to their mounds from the okra plant. Fire ants are orange or red in color. Picking a time after it rains will help you locate their mounds, because they will be actively trying to reestablish their tunnels.

Use baits that contain the active ingredient pyriproxyfen to control fire ants on okra, because the bait is safe for livestock and other animals. Pyriproxyfen works by preventing the ant queen from laying eggs. Once the worker ants have died they are no longer replaced.

Reapply the bait after a few days, or according to directions.

Other Ants

Apply an insecticidal soap to your okra plants to kill aphids and ants. Avoid spraying your okra plants with insecticidal soap if the air temperature exceeds 90 degrees F.

Spray okra at regular intervals with insecticidal soap. Insecticidal soap is a contact insecticide. It only kills insects that are present on the day the soap is sprayed.

Monitor okra plants for new ants or aphids. You can tell that aphids are eating your plants by looking for leaves that are yellowing, curling or falling off the plant.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wrap a sticky ant tape around containers growing okra plants.
  • Avoid spraying a water-stressed okra plant with insecticidal soap.

References

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