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Do NOT Use Mothballs in the Garden

A Master Gardener recently was asked if it was OK to use mothballs in the garden to repel snakes. Mothballs are nearly 100% active ingredient and contain the chemicals naphthalene or paradichlorobenze. Each active ingredient can cause different health effects if exposure is high enough; when you smell mothballs you are inhaling the insecticide. They are very dangerous if chewed or eaten, a serious problem for children, pets & wildlife.

Mothballs are a registered pesticide and labeled for use to kill clothes moths and other fabric pests. The label directly instructs the user to place mothballs in tightly closed containers to prevent pesticide fumes from escaping into the surrounding air.

It is illegal to use mothballs in locations and for pests that are not on the label. This includes gardens, attics, crawl spaces and outbuildings.

So the answer is NO. It’s not legal, it’s not safe and it’s not effective. If you are trying to repel snakes, deer, rabbits, rodents or insects of any kind there are more appropriate and more effective repellents to consider.

Call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522 for advice.