Trublu asked about the homemade repellent. My sister, Meri, gave the recipe to me over the phone. I've made it twice- once with the recipe and once without because I can't find where I wrote it down. It's probably a good idea to have it written down somewhere, though, so I can find it so next time I want it. So, here it is off the top of my head. Mer, if I got it wrong, leave a comment and let everyone know!
Insect Repellent (for plants, unless "salsa" is your fragrance of choice and you like a little tingle in your day!)
1 small onion
1 jalapeno pepper
2 cloves of garlic (I think, last time I made it I put in 4)
1 tsp. Murphy's Oil Soap
1 tsp. vegetable oil
Pulse the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in the blender. You don't want to liquify it, just make it into a pulp. Pour the pulp into a quart jar and fill with hot water. Let steep at least 2 hours. Mix the liquid from the pulp and water in a 3:1 ratio (water:pulp liquid). (I bought a spray bottle at Wal-Mart that has the amounts marked on the side.) Add the oil soap and oil. Shake and mist your plants several times a week.
Lessons from my massive one week of experience:
1) The first time I made it, I kept the pulp, adding fresh water every day, for a week. The potency lessened over the week, so I up-ed the concentration to 2:1 towards the end.
2) I did not keep it in the fridge, no real good reason why.
3) I spray every morning, except Sunday.
4) One spray bottle will do my entire garden- heavy misting on the zucchini and pumpkins, medium on the tomatoes, light on the corn, whatever's left on the strawberries and raspberry plant.
5) I do the tops and bottoms of each leaf of the zucchini and pumpkin, just the tops pf everything else.
5) At a 3:1 ratio, I can get at least 2, and pretty close to 3 spray bottles of mixture. At a 2:1 I get 2.
6) Doesn't seem to bother snails (drat!) outright but insects will take off if you mist them. Though, maybe they just don't like getting wet.
7) It's a great child repellent, at least at our house. The kids do NOT like the smell and complain and move away whenever I open the jar. (If that helps you have a quiet moment on any given boring summer afternoon!)
As I said before, I don't know if it really works or not, but I don't see the miniscule red bugs on the zucchini and pumpkin plants any more and they are growing new leaves that are pretty much chew-free. The corn hasn't had a bug problem at all and neither have the tomatoes that I know of, but I spray everything at least a little when I'm outside. Hope this helps!