Mothballs are federally regulated chemical pesticides. They are made of paradichlorobenzene, naphthalene, or camphor, and by law are only allowed to be used as intended on the packet.
While naphthalene can be found in many snake deterrent products, many studies have found that snakes are not particularly deterred the product. If you create a line of mothballs, snakes will happily slither straight over it, as shown in the video later in this article.
Theoretically, snakes do find powerful scents irritating, so there’s a clear possibility that moth balls may be an irritant. However, the data seems inconclusive at best, and using moth balls in ways not intended on the packet is never recommended.
Disclaimer: FaunaFacts does not encourage or condone the use of unregulated or home remedy animal repellents. Animal repellents must be used in accordance with the product labels and local regulations. Placing pesticides and chemicals around your property may be dangerous and can contravene local laws. Do not approach wild animals. Consult a pest control professional for advice on what’s best for your situation.
Can you Use Moth Balls to Repel Snakes?
As federally regulated pesticides, moth balls can only be used as strictly prescribed on the packet. Most moth balls are sold only to be used in specific conditions that rarely include repelling snakes.
We are generally discouraged from using moth balls around the garden because they could be an irritant to native wildlife such as birds, could be harmful to dogs who may eat them, and may irritate children.
There are some commercial snake deterrent products that contain the active ingredient in mothballs (usually, naphthalene) that have been approved for sprinkling around the garden in order to deter snakes. These products should only be used as directed.
And as some case studies have shown, even those professional products may be ineffective:
Why Don’t Moth Balls work on Snakes?
Moth balls are only an effective deterrent on insects when used in small confined spaces. They are too weak to deter snakes, yet pose a danger to pets and wildlife who may eat the balls.
The general consensus is that most moth balls and related pest control products only contain 7% naphthalene, whereas you’d need closer to 100% naphthalene (used in a confined airtight space) for it to truly have a strong effect on larger animals like snakes and bats.
However, at that higher concentration, naphthalene is highly poisonous, even to humans, making the chemical a very inconvenient solution to pest problems. It’s simultaneously too diluted to have the desired effect, and too poisonous to have lying around the home.
It makes much more sense to get professionals to humanely remove snakes by catching them and transporting them to a safe habitat far from humans.
Why do People Think Mothballs Deter Snakes?
Many people may be mistaken that mothballs are a deterrent when, in all likelihood, a snake left the region for a completely different reason.
On the one hand, it seems logical that a snake may be irritated by a strong smell. They do, after all, have very strong sense of smell thanks to their Jacobson’s organ. But, no data supports this hypothesis.
When people place moth balls around to deter snakes, and snakes then leave, this doesn’t mean the moth balls were the answer.
Chances are, snakes left because of change of season, they were irritated by the amount of human movement in the area, or they were just passing through and had no intention to stay!
Why do Mothballs Keep Some Animals Away?
Mothballs produce an irritating smell that may deter animals from frequenting an area. Generally, they are produced to be placed in closets to deter moths, whose small bodies are irritated by smaller amounts of the chemical substance.
Larger animals like snakes, on the other hand, are likely to be irritated but undeterred.
The main components in moth balls are naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene.
Mothballs functions by changing from a solid-state to a gas state as they remain still. The gas yields the pesticide that is identifiable from its characteristic smell.
Whenever mothballs are put in a small area such as a closet, the gas is generally high enough in intensity to sufficiently repel small insects like moths and might even kill them. However, the irritation does not seem to be enough to seriously deter most animals.
Why not use Moth Balls?
There are several reasons not to use moth balls to deter snakes. First, using a pesticide in a way not intended on the packet is a violation of regulations. Second, it’s unlikely to work. And third, it may cause damage to pets, native wildlife, and the ecosystem.
The chemicals in mothballs could be breathed in, absorbed via the skin, or enter the stomach and intestines. Cats are very reactive to the poisonous effects of mothballs, and dogs are prone to eating mothballs
Pesticides, in general, pose some significant risks to the members of your family. Whenever the vapors from these toxic chemicals are widespread in your home, there is a possibility of long-term health problems.
Possible health complications arising from mothballs include headaches, unsettled stomach, faintness, red blood cell destruction, trouble while breathing, exhaustion, acne, loss of appetite, sense, and nose bleeding, and lots more.
All Articles in our Snake Repellant Series:
Mothballs are both hazardous to humans and pets, and unlikely to deter snakes. They’re therefore a rather ineffective pest control solution.
Mothballs used in the garden or around a home’s perimeter do not merely upset the soil and water, but also pets, wildlife, or even young children who play with the balls.
The best solution to a snake problem in and around your home, therefore, is to seek professional pest control agencies to come and take care of the issue for you.
I am the founder and owner of Fauna Facts. My mission is to write valuable and entertaining information about animals and pets for my audience. I hope you enjoy the site!