Ants and Okra Pods

Asked July 12, 2017, 10:09 AM EDT

I'm growing Okra in a pot. Recently, I've noticed ants completed covering some of the Okra pods, before they are fully developed. I've read online to sprinkle a product containing Diatomaceous Earth and this would kill the ants on contact, but this is poisonous. Is this something I can sprinkle in the soil and not put on the plant? Also, I've heard of sprinkling coffee grounds on the soil. Is this a better option?

Prince George's County Maryland

1 Response

Diatomaceous earth is safe to use at the base of the plants. Coffee grounds can be composted and used as a soil amendment but they will not do anything to control ants. Check the pods and young leaves of the plants to see if there are any aphids or other insects. Ants are attracted to sweet substances such as the honeydew secretion produced by aphids. The ants "tend" the aphids -- i.e., protect them from predators (therefore protecting a food source). They may be attracted to an exudate produced by okra pods. You could try dislodging them with a strong spray of water and see if this helps to control them.