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Mothballs are a Pesticide


Many homeowners and gardeners think of mothballs as a quick fix when trying to control indoor pest problems or wildlife incursions. There are problems with using mothballs for this purpose.

Mothballs are made up of Naphthalene. The EPA has the following statement about Naphthalene, the active ingredient in mothballs:



[notice]”Naphthalene is associated with hemolytic anemia, damage to the liver, and neurological damage.  Cataracts have also been reported in workers acutely exposed to naphthalene by inhalation and ingestion.  Chronic (long-term) exposure of workers and rodents to naphthalene has been reported to cause cataracts and damage to the retina.  Hemolytic anemia has been reported in infants born to mothers who “sniffed” and ingested naphthalene (as mothballs) during pregnancy.  Available data are inadequate to establish a causal relationship between exposure to naphthalene and cancer in humans.  EPA has classified naphthalene as a Group C, possible human carcinogen.” Source: website  [/notice]

The use of  mothballs in gardens or around the house to deter nuisance wildlife is problematic at best; harmful to pets, children and adults at worst.  When mothballs are placed outdoors they can contaminate edible garden crops, runoff into ponds, streams and lakes and leach into ground water as a pollutant.

 Here are a few things to consider when using moth balls:

  • Outside use of these products is prohibited
  • Applications are limited to an airtight space or well sealed container such as a garment bag.
  • Application locations not listed on the label, and therefore not allowed, include
    • attics
    • walls
    • voids
    • crawl spaces
    • gardens
    • closets
    • plastic garbage bags.

Moth balls are a pesticide and regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). Contact information: FDACS (850) 617-7882, National Pesticide Information Center (800) 858-7378, Poison Control Center (800) 222-1222, Florida Department of Health, Bureau of Epidemiology, Pesticide Surveillance Program (800) 606-5810.

7 Comments on “Mothballs are a Pesticide

  1. Thank you very much for this information and I will pass it on. It seems many people in the local area are unaware of the harmful effects of Naphthalene.

  2. Matt, Very Interesting. Thank you for sharing.

    I know you have a space limitation! BUT, If mothballs are problematic at best in the garden….what are the more effective ways…”to control indoor pest problems or wildlife incursions”? Starting to see a number of what looks like rat snakes!! Probably better than rats–seen them before.

  3. Hi, Matthew
    …Just curious. If moth balls are so highly toxic, illegal to use in yards or gardens, and are also not allowed in items/places of list added…just what the heck are they manufactured for, and why in God’s name are they still being manufactured??

    Thank you for a response,
    Alisa Brown

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