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Insect Management for Okra

Jawwad A. Qureshi, Dakshina Seal, and Susan. E Webb

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentum) is a warm-weather crop grown in the summer throughout Florida. Most commercial production is concentrated in south Florida, where it can be grown most of the year. It is often grown as a second crop after more valuable vegetables. Historically, relatively few insecticides and miticides have been registered for use on okra, making it challenging to manage insects and mites effectively. Recently, okra has been added to the Fruiting Vegetables Crop Group (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), and there are now many more options for pest control. Arthropod pests of okra include caterpillars (larvae of Lepidoptera), aphids, thrips, whiteflies, and mites.

Leaf-feeding caterpillar pests (lepidopteran larvae) that attack okra include beet, southern, and fall armyworm, cab bage looper, and corn earworm. Cabbage looper and corn earworm can also bore into pods. Scouting for these pests is essential because some of the pesticides available (Bacillus thuringiensis products, spinosad, and methoxyfenozide) are most effective for controlling young caterpillars and are less effective on later stages that can defoliate plants. Melon aphid, green peach aphid, and silverleaf whitefly can be very damaging. Imidacloprid will control these sucking insects, but a soil application's effects will wear off before the end of the growing season. Melon thrips and southern green stink bugs can also cause severe damage, and growers have very limited options for control at this time. Spinosad is effective for reducing thrips populations, but overuse could lead to the development of resistance and loss of control. There are now six products available for mite control. Products containing neem or azadirachtin can be used for all pests of okra but are generally only moderately effective.

Because of limited options for chemical control of insects, conservation of natural enemies is important and possible. As with all crops, destruction of the crop after harvest can help reduce pest populations. The practice of prolonging production by topping plants may contribute to pest problems, even though it reduces the cost of production.

Table 1. Insecticides approved for managing insect pests of okra crops.

Publication #ENY-466

Date: 6/30/2002

Fact Sheet

About this Publication

This document is ENY-466, one of a series of the Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date July 2002. Revised September 2007, February 2010, June 2013, February 2017, and July 2020. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Jawwad A. Qureshi, assistant professor, Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Southwest Florida Research and Education Center; Dakshina Seal, scientist, Entomology and Nematology Department, UF/IFAS Tropical REC; and Susan E. Webb, associate professor, Entomology and Nematology Department; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Jawwad Qureshi