Okra, scientific name Abelmoschus esculentus, is a plant that is widely cultivated in tropical regions. Okra also is called lady’s fingers and is a vegetable that can be eaten fried, cooked or raw. Just like most vegetable plants, okra is particularly prone to insect infestation, which can ruin the plant. Many small bugs are attracted to the large amounts of oil that okra contains. Growers used to think that ants were harmless to okra productions, but fire ants feed on the base of the okra bloom before it can begin to develop.
Remove any diseased leaves or rotten fruit and vegetables from the area around your okra plant. Find out whether fire ants are attacking the okra before it blooms or whether they are eating okra that has fallen from the plant. Act immediately if the fire ants are eating the base of the blooms.
Purchase a bait that is specific to fire ants such as S-methoprene and Pyriproxyfen. Place the bait within at least 6 inches all around your plant. The bait will reduce the amount of fire ants that try to reach the okra, but you still need to eliminate the ants.
Locate where the fire ants are coming from. You should be able to easily follow a trail of the ants if they are significantly prominent around your okra plant. Once you have found the mound where the fire ants live, mark the area with a flag or spray paint.
Spray an insecticide on the fire ant mound that contains pyrethrins. Check the label of the ant control to make sure it contains this chemical. Spray as directed, but make sure not to use all of the spray because more applications might be needed later.
Wait two to three days while catering to your okra plant to see if the ants have been completely killed. Apply the ant-control spray again if there are still signs of fire ants. Also, place the ant bait closer to the mound until the ants die out.