ant problem on my okra

NewTXGardener (8a Dallas)August 4, 2014

I had some aphids underneath my okra leaves, especially the young ones, I killed them all by hand. And then the ants moved to attacking my flower buds, flowers, and the developing pods. They chewed on the developing pods with no aphids on them. These are fireants. I tried neem oil which only killed them when they were there, and then a new batch came in the next day. I tried cornmeal, they brought it home but didn't die. They don't care about cinnamon, they walk over it. I tried the organic pest spray from Lowes called EcoSmart or something that supposedly would kill on contact but that did nothing at all, they were walking like nothing had happened. I used cayenne pepper that only got rid of them temporarily and then they came back to continue chewing on my pods and flower buds. Now almost all the flower buds were chewed off of the okra plants, I doubt I will have any harvest at all.

These are fireants. What can I do? Help!!! I'd prefer not to use anything toxic.

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I've had pretty good luck with Dawn dish soap. I use it as a barrier. They don't like to cross it. If you can put a ring around the stem, it will stop traffic. I read somewhere they go back to the dirt to their nest at night. (Don't know if it's true.)

Of course it will be tedious putting it on every couple of days. But it may buy you time as you look for something organic yet lethal.

I use this trick in my hummingbird feeder hanger. Works like a charm.

Good luck! Fire ants are no fun.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 12:23AM
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NewTXGardener (8a Dallas)

I only have the Costco biodegradable dish soap, would that work? What will that do to the pH of my soil? Is it going to kill my okras?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 12:56AM
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I've been using Dawn dishsoap in my garden for years with no ill effects. I don't know what's in the Costco soap so can't say if it's as safe.

Dawn is biodegradable and is safe enough to use on rescued sea birds for cleaning their plumage of oil spill gunk. It won't kill your plants.

I also use Dawn with water in a sprayer to kill squash bugs. I like to send out my boys to pretend they are great hunters. Spray bottle in hand, sneaking up on their prey. The soap coats their evil beetle shells and suffocates them within seconds. Lovely to watch squash bugs perish.

But I digress...

Compare the ingredients on the bottles. They may be the same.

I bet the ants would regard Costco dish soap with the same loathing and avoidance they do with Dawn. They don't want to get stuck in it so they don't cross. It interrupts the scent trail they are following and they may not want to get their feet stuck in it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 3:55PM
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centexan254 zone 8 Temple, Tx

Good luck. You are learning why I stopped trying to grow okra. Fire ants will crawl over the top of the dead ants to get to it. The only 2 things that I have seen that worked are banned from the market, and I will refrain from stating what they are to keep from igniting a flame war, and throwing your post off topic.

Best of luck to you.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 4:03PM
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NewTXGardener (8a Dallas)

I think I might have found a way. First, I disturbed their nest which was on my raised bed, and then I flooded it. They moved to the oppposite corner and have some satellite ant beds in between. I disturbed those the next day and flooded them again. Then they moved to I wasn't sure where, I couldn't find a nest anymore, but fewer showed up on my okra plants. They still showed up to chew on my okra. One developing okra had been trying to grow long for over a week now, and it's at like 2 inches only, all chewed up and ugly, I think I just may have to cut it off.

Then a friend of mine told me to use coffee grounds, oatmeal, molasses. I went to Starbucks to get coffee grounds, covered the soil with it. They still came. I had kelp+molasses+fish emulsion plant food in liquid form, I got that mixed with water and sprayed all the leaves and stems and buds, stems, everywhere. I also sprayed the coffee grounds so they splattered all over the stalks.

That was like a week long process! Today, I went out, no ants!! Hope they have moved on and don't come back. But some aphids eggs are back. I squished them all. How do they get up to the leaves to lay eggs??

    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:25AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

it has been said.. in the garden clinic forum ... that many of the dish products are a detergent.. rather than a soap ... as we define soap in the garden ...

on the other hand.. if it works.. it works ...

i hope i quoted that properly.. if you are interested.. ask in that forum ... ask for kmmer ... lol..


    Bookmark   August 12, 2014 at 11:28AM
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