Fire Ants – On Okra

Q: I’ve heard you mention that ants found on okra are typically benign. This may be true for most species, but when I was living in south Georgia (Vidalia) and gardening, I had a problem with fire ants on my low bush okra.

I would usually have no problem with ants of any kind as they are good predators of pests, but these fire ants were gathering around the base of each pod in a circle.

I didn’t realize what their intentions or methods were until I brushed them off and examined the pods with a 10X magnifier. It was plain that they had been making small incisions around the bases of each pod to cause the sap to flow.

They were harvesting this sap as a food source.

A: Much to my surprise, entomologist Will Hudson agrees with you, saying he’d observed the same thing in his own garden.

We learn something new every day!