Garden pests

Mothballs in the garden: safe alternatives to mothballs for pest control

You’ve probably read tips on websites and in magazines that recommend the use of mothballs as a repellent for rodents and pests. Some people think they are «natural» pet repellents because they are common household products. Read on to learn more about using mothballs to repel pests.

Can I use mothballs in the garden?

The use of mothballs to repel pests in the garden poses a danger to children, pets and wildlife visiting your garden. Young children explore their environment by putting objects in their mouths, and animals may think they are food. Ingesting small amounts of toxic chemicals from mothballs can cause serious damage that requires immediate medical or veterinary attention. Mothballs in gardens also pose a risk if you breathe in the fumes or if the chemicals come into contact with your skin or eyes.
The use of mothballs in gardens also poses significant environmental problems. Generally
contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Both of these chemicals are highly toxic and can enter the soil and groundwater. The dangers of naphthalene can even damage the plants you are trying to protect.
Mothballs are insecticides controlled by the Environmental Protection Agency. It is therefore illegal to use them for any purpose or by any method not specified on the label. Mothballs are labeled only for use in closed containers for the control of clothes moths.

Alternatives to mothballs

There are several ways to eliminate garden pests without using mothballs. Hazards are minimal when chemicals and poisons are avoided. Here are some tips on how to use safe control measures to replace mothballs

  • Traps . The persistent use of traps is a good way to reduce rodent populations and the only effective way to get rid of chipmunks. Use traps that catch the animals without harming them, then release them into the field or woods.
  • Fences . Although it is not possible to build rodent proof fences around your property, fences in your yard are a good way to get rid of rodents. Use materials with openings no more than one inch wide. To keep squirrels, groundhogs and rabbits out, build a fence one metre high and two inches higher underground.
  • Repellents . You will find many products in your garden center that claim to repel animals. Some are more effective than others, so be prepared for a little trial and error. Properly used cat litter can sometimes repel burrowing animals if you pour it directly into burrow openings. Chillies are said to repel squirrels and rabbits.

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