Debunking the Mothball Myth: Are They Really Effective in Keeping Squirrels Away?

Ever wondered if there’s a simple solution to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders or garden? You’re not alone. Many homeowners turn to mothballs, a common household item, in an attempt to deter these pesky critters.

But does this method actually work? Or are you just wasting your time and mothballs? Let’s delve into the facts and myths surrounding the use of mothballs as a squirrel deterrent. This article will provide you with the insights you need to make an informed decision.

Stay tuned as we explore the effectiveness of mothballs against squirrels, the potential risks involved, and other alternative solutions you might want to consider.

Key Takeaways

  • Mothballs, commonly suggested as a squirrel deterrent, have mixed effectiveness due to the low concentration of the active ingredient, Naphthalene, in commercially available products.
  • Many users report that squirrels are not effectively deterred by mothballs, often moving them aside and continuing with their activities.
  • Alongside questionable deterrence capabilities, mothballs also present serious health risks. They contain harmful substances, including Naphthalene and Paradichlorobenzene, that can cause health problems in both humans and wildlife.
  • Using mothballs outdoors leads to environmental contamination as the chemicals can leach into the soil and groundwater, leading to problems for the whole ecosystem including plant growth defects.
  • Safer, eco-friendly alternatives to mothballs include habitat modification, natural repellents (such as crushed pepper, garlic, and vinegar), and electronic deterrent devices.
  • Mothballs are not a reliable future proof solution to deter squirrels, and the potential health and environmental issues they can cause should be taken into account when considering squirrel deterrent methods.

Mothballs are commonly thought to repel squirrels, but their effectiveness is mostly a myth. Bird Watchers General Store explains that while mothballs may have a strong odor, they do little to deter squirrels from bird feeders or gardens. All South Pest Control discusses alternative methods that are more effective and safer for keeping squirrels away, such as using squirrel-proof feeders and proper yard sanitation. Additionally, The Squirrel Board offers a forum for discussing and debunking various myths surrounding the use of mothballs in rodent control.

Exploring the Effectiveness of Mothballs Against Squirrels

Have you ever wondered why mothballs are often recommended as a squirrel deterrent? It largely boils down to the main ingredient found in mothballs: Naphthalene. This organic compound has a strong scent that’s thought to repel many pests including squirrels. However, the question still stands: are mothballs truly an effective solution against squirrels?

To test the effectiveness of mothballs, several studies have been conducted with mixed results. A few studies report mild to moderate success in deterring squirrels, while others show no significant deterrent effect. Here, it is worth noting that the effectiveness largely depends on the concentration of Naphthalene used. In most commercial mothballs, the concentration of this compound is far too low to effectively deter squirrels.

So, if you’re banking on these small balls of Naphthalene to keep squirrels away from your bird feeders or gardens, you might want to rethink your strategy. The thin layer of protection they provide is not substantial enough to keep crafty squirrels at bay. Many users have reported that squirrels simply pushed the mothballs aside, clearly unaffected by their presence.

In a nutshell, while the idea of using mothballs as a squirrel repellent might sound appealing due to their availability and low cost, it’s not the most effective method. And, not only are their repelling capabilities questionable, but mothballs can also pose serious health hazards, which we’ll explore in the next section.

Potential Risks of Using Mothballs as a Squirrel Deterrent

In addition to the variable effectiveness of mothballs, there are certain health hazards which warrant your attention. For this important information, it’s crucial to understand that mothballs, though readily accessible, aren’t harmless by any standard.

Mothballs primarily contain Naphthalene or sometimes Paradichlorobenzene, both of which are fairly toxic substances. In quantity, they are known to cause a multitude of problems ranging from nausea, vomiting, to more severe cases such as hemolytic anemia. This could potentially affect not only the wildlife but also children and pets that might come into contact with these substances.

Including humans and plants in the equation

Not limited to animal health alone, mothballs present threats to human safety as well. Prolonged exposure can lead to significant health complications. In humans, even minimal contact with Naphthalene can potentially cause liver and neurological damage. Not just that, inhalation or ingestion of mothballs has been linked to serious conditions, including cancer and conditions affecting red blood cells.

While it might seem insignificant, exposure to mothballs actually harms the environment as well. When used outdoors, these chemicals leach into the soil, disrupting the natural balance and contaminating the groundwater. Plants exposed to contaminated water can suffer growth defects.

This table represents health concerns of Naphthalene exposure, both in humans and wildlife:

SpeciesLow-level ExposureHigh-level Exposure
HumansLiver, neurological damageCancer, conditions affecting red blood cells
WildlifeNausea, vomitingHemolytic anemia
PlantsGrowth defectsContaminated groundwater

Your search for a solution to deter squirrels shouldn’t contribute to other problems. Think of the potential harm to your family, pets, and the environment before deciding on a quick fix like mothballs. Instead, consider exploring safer alternatives. Various research and studies point to the use of natural repellents and deterrents that pose less risk and might prove to be more effective.

Alternative Solutions to Keep Squirrels Away

Moving beyond mothballs, you may be wondering what other practical solutions are out there that won’t pose a health or environmental risk. Take heart, we have compiled a list of tried-and-true alternatives that are not only effective but also eco-friendly.

Habitat Modification

Sometimes, it just takes small adjustments to your surroundings. If squirrels are drawn to your property, it’s likely due to the abundance of food and shelter. One of the most effective preventative measures you can take is habitat modification. This includes trimming overhanging branches that squirrels could use for access, keeping your garden tidy, and storing food waste like compost and birdseed properly.

Natural Repellents

Products made from natural ingredients can be another line of defense. Some easy-to-obtain examples include crushed pepper, garlic, and vinegar, among others. Keep in mind that while we are talking about squirrels, other wildlife may also react differently to these solutions – it’s a living, breathing ecosystem we’re dealing with.

Use Electronic Deterrent Devices

Electronic devices that emit ultrasonic sounds or light are available in the market. Squirrels perceive them as a threat and tend to stay away. Remember that not all devices are created equal. It’s critical to find trustworthy and reputable sources when purchasing these products, ensuring they are safe.

Throughout your furry pest control journey, be mindful of the broader impact on the environment. Respect the balance of nature and opt for humane, eco-conscious methods that won’t harm the ecosystem. Remember, those squirrels are a part of it, too. No approach is a one-size-fits-all. You’ll want to try a combination of these methods and observe what works best in your situation. Keeping squirrels away does not have to mean compromising the health and wellbeing of your surroundings.

Myth Busting: Do Mothballs Truly Keep Squirrels at Bay?

You may have come across some backyard lore: mothballs are touted as a surefire way to deter squirrels. This old wives’ tale needs sifting through scientific evidence to separate fact from fiction. It’s important especially if you’re considering deploying this method in your garden.

Mothballs are tiny, potent balls of chemical pesticides, primarily containing Naphthalene or Paradichlorobenzene. When exposed to open air, they release fumes, creating a pungent odor. The idea is this unpleasant smell allegedly drives squirrels away.

Squirrels, like most creatures, do have an aversion to strong, pungent odors. That much is true. Yet, the real question here is: Is it effective enough to drive them away for good? Well, things are not that straightforward.

Some homeowners report success. Others find squirrels are temporarily perturbed but soon return once the fumes dissipate. What does this tell you? The success in using mothballs as a squirrel deterrent can be inconsistent, making it not a reliable solution to your squirrel problem.

Moreover, just as critical as their effectiveness, or lack thereof, are the potential health hazards these chemicals pose. Both Naphthalene and Paradichlorobenzene are harmful, even carcinogenic. They’re hazardous to humans, pets, wildlife, and the environment at large. This means even if mothballs work in deterring squirrels, the risk to health and safety might outweigh their utility.

Keep it in mind, though, that these concerns are not intended to make you feel helpless in your fight against squirrel invasions. Far from it. Consider alternatives. You can explore habitat modifications, employ natural repellents, or turn to electronic deterrents to keep squirrels at bay. There’s always a more humane, eco-friendly solution out there. Balancing effectiveness and environmental respect is the real goal in pest control.

Meanwhile, don’t perpetuate the mothball myth. Make the conscious decision to protect your surroundings while finding efficient squirrel deterrents. Your approach to this issue may inspire others, contributing to broader awareness and action.


So, you’ve learned that mothballs aren’t the magic squirrel solution they’re often made out to be. Their effectiveness is hit-or-miss, and the health risks they pose to humans and the environment are far too significant to ignore. It’s clear that the cons outweigh the pros.

You’re better off exploring safer, more eco-friendly alternatives to keep squirrels at bay. Habitat modifications, natural repellents, and electronic deterrents are all worth considering. They offer a balance between effectiveness and environmental respect, which mothballs simply can’t match.

Remember, pest control doesn’t have to harm the environment. It’s possible to keep squirrels away without resorting to harmful chemicals. Make the wise choice for you, your family, and the planet. Opt for green solutions over mothballs. It’s a win-win situation: you get a squirrel-free home, and the environment breathes a sigh of relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do mothballs effectively deter squirrels?

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of mothballs as a squirrel deterrent is inconsistent. While some may find a reduction in squirrel activity, the article reveals that it’s far from offering a conclusive solution.

2. Are mothballs safe to use as a squirrel deterrent?

Chemicals present in mothballs such as Naphthalene and Paradichlorobenzene pose significant health hazards. Therefore, their usage is not considered safe, especially around children, pets, and in close proximity to living spaces.

3. What other alternatives can I use instead of mothballs?

Safer alternatives to mothballs include modifying the habitat to make it less appealing to squirrels, using natural repellents, or installing electronic deterrent devices that cause discomfort to squirrels but are otherwise harmless.

4. Why shouldn’t I rely on mothballs for squirrel control?

Mothballs don’t guarantee effectiveness and they pose health risks to humans and the environment. It’s crucial to opt for solutions that not only work but also respect the environment, turning to eco-conscious methods of pest control.