This website is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission.

Do Mothballs Repel Squirrels?

Last Updated: 05.12.23


Being the owner of a beautiful vegetable garden and seeing it being destroyed by squirrels will certainly make you search for available repellents. You might be interested in our article on this topic; just check it out and you will find some useful suggestions.


Are Squirrels Bad for Your Garden?

If you do not have a garden, you might think that squirrels are innocent, cute-looking creatures with fluffy tails. And they are! Aside from that, they also like vegetables. They will rip your tomatoes and have small bites out of each.

You might end up with the entire plant gone. Gardeners might see squirrels as pests who devastate their plants, chewing on pretty much everything in sight. If you want to keep these pesky little rodents away from your veggies, you need to find some effective repellents.

What are Mothballs?

In case you started looking for solutions to keep squirrels away from your garden, you might have been recommended to use mothballs. But what are they exactly? To put it simply, mothballs are small balls containing chemical pesticide and deodorant, often used when storing clothes or other textile objects that may be targeted for destruction by moths.

When they started being used, mothballs consisted primarily of naphthalene. However, since this component is highly flammable, modern mothballs now use 1.4-dichlorobenzene. Although the latter formulation is considered less flammable, both chemicals have the same NFPA 704 rating for flammability.

Both naphthalene and 1.4-dichlorobenzene present a purgent and sickly-sweet scent and undergo sublimation. This means that they evaporate from a solid state into a toxic gas. Since the 1.4-dichlorobenzene represents a health risk and the naphthalene is highly flammable, camphor can also be used in the composition of mothballs.


Mothballs Uses

Usually, mothballs are stored in airtight bags that are made of a non-reactive plastic like polypropylene or polyethylene. In order to be as effective as possible, the clothing protected by the mothballs should also be enclosed in a sealed plastic bag. Otherwise, the vapors will escape and lose their strength.

Mothballs are also used as snake, squirrel, bats, or other pest repellents, but they are not so effective. It is very important to note that they are also illegal in many states, so, in case you were thinking of using these, you should inquire if they are legal in your area or not.


Health Risks

It was determined by the United States Department of Health and Human Services that 1.4-dichlorobenzene can be a carcinogen. Although no full-scale human studies have been conducted, animal studies support this theory.

This chemical is also considered a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research for Cancer and the National Toxicology Program. Other studies revealed that exposure to naphthalene mothballs can cause acute anemia in people with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.

The International Agency for Research for Cancer points out that acute exposure to naphthalene causes cataracts in rats, rabbits, mice, and humans as well. Other studies reveal many other hazardous effects of chronic exposure to both naphthalene and 1.4-dichlorobenzene.


Mothballs as Squirrel Repellents

Due to the strong odor of mothballs, squirrels will not go near the areas where you put them. Still, you might want to be cautious, as the smell might bother people as well. The use is simple, as you just need to place the mothballs beside the plants and replace them when the smell starts to fade.

There are many people who insist that mothballs represent a good squirrel remedy around the house. Still, no matter how you look at it, it is a harmful method. If you have children, elderly people, or pets at home, you should be extremely cautious.

The toxins contained by mothballs may interfere with good health development or aggravate existing issues. Pets can accidentally consume mothballs and get poisoned. In this case, why use something that can harm you, your family, and pets, when there are so many other alternatives, especially natural ones?




Even if they can devastate your garden, squirrels can be more humanely controlled using various methods that will keep both your vegetables and the small rodents safe. You can start by removing any temptations near your garden, such as bird feeders.

The seeds and bits of fruits attract squirrels, so if you move them further away from your garden, that’ll be one less temptation for them. It is the same with the garbage bins – make sure they are always closed.

Another way to protect your garden is by enclosing it. You can use tall wire cages and bird nets to cover it. What better way is there to keep squirrels away from your garden than keeping them out? Scarecrows, owl decoys, high-frequency sound machines, or motion detecting lights can also be very successful in keeping squirrels away.

If you have the necessary time, you can also set up traps with sunflower seeds, corn pieces, or other treats. Once the squirrel is trapped, you can take it somewhere far and release it. If you are too close to home, the little rodent will most probably find its way back to your house.

There are many natural repellents that will keep squirrels away from your garden. For example, they do not like strong smells from certain plants, such as garlic, onions, hot pepper, or cayenne pepper. There are also various ways in which you can use these.

You can sprinkle them around and on the plants that are most tempting for the squirrels. You can make sprays and diffuse them on the vegetables. Moreover, these are all natural, and you will not be using any toxic pesticides on your plants.

Various plants and bulbs are avoided by squirrels due to their taste and smell. You can plant peppermint, allium, geranium, lily of the valley, or hyacinths close to your garden and the pesky rodents will stay away from the area in question.

If you are dealing with destructive squirrels, yes, you can use mothballs to repel them, but you will also be putting yourself and your family at risk. Our recommendation is to go for the alternatives, as there are plenty to select from.




1) What Are the Dangers of Having Squirrels in a Yard?

2) Squirrel damage in your yard and garden

3) What is a mothball?

4) Smells That Squirrels Do Not Like

5) Will Mothballs Deter Chipmunks & Squirrels?



Leave a comment

0 Comments Protection Status