Do Mothballs Repel Squirrels?

Squirrels can be cute and entertaining when they frolic in the trees or scurry across the ground, but when they invade our homes or damage our property, they can become quite a nuisance. Finding effective methods to deter squirrels from our premises becomes a priority, leading many to wonder if mothballs, commonly used as a moth deterrent, can also repel squirrels.

In this article, we’ll delve into the topic of whether mothballs can effectively repel squirrels and explore alternative methods to keep these critters at bay.

What are Mothballs?

Mothballs are small, round pellets composed of chemicals such as naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. These substances are known for their pungent odor and their ability to repel moths, which can cause damage to fabrics and clothing. Mothballs are typically used in closets, storage spaces, and garment bags to protect items from moth infestation.

Understanding Squirrels

Before we explore the potential repellent qualities of mothballs, it’s important to understand squirrels and their behavior. Squirrels are small to medium-sized rodents known for their bushy tails and agile climbing abilities. They are active during daylight hours, have excellent balance, and possess sharp teeth that allow them to chew through various materials.

The Issue with Squirrels

While squirrels can be fascinating creatures to observe in their natural habitat, they can become a problem when they invade our living spaces. Squirrels have a knack for finding their way into attics, basements, and even wall cavities, seeking shelter, warmth, and a place to nest. Once inside, they can wreak havoc by damaging insulation, gnawing on electrical wires, and leaving droppings throughout the area.

Do Mothballs Repel Squirrels?

The question on many homeowners’ minds is whether mothballs can effectively deter squirrels. Unfortunately, the answer is not as straightforward as one might hope. While mothballs emit a strong odor that can be unpleasant to many creatures, including squirrels, their effectiveness as a long-term squirrel repellent is questionable.

How Mothballs Work

Mothballs work by releasing chemical fumes into the air, creating an environment that moths find repulsive. These fumes disrupt the moths’ olfactory senses, making the area inhospitable for them. The lingering smell of mothballs is what leads some to believe that they could also deter squirrels.

Effectiveness of Mothballs as Squirrel Repellent

While some people claim success with using mothballs to repel squirrels, it’s important to note that the results can vary. Squirrels, unlike moths, have a different olfactory system and may not be as deterred by the strong scent of mothballs. Furthermore, squirrels are adaptable creatures and may become accustomed to the smell over time, rendering the mothballs ineffective.

Potential Risks and Dangers of Mothballs

Using mothballs as a squirrel repellent poses potential risks and dangers. Mothballs contain toxic chemicals that can be harmful to humans, pets, and the environment. The fumes emitted by mothballs can be toxic when inhaled or ingested, leading to respiratory issues, nausea, and other health problems. Additionally, the chemicals can contaminate soil and water sources, posing a threat to wildlife.

Alternative Methods for Squirrel Repellent

Given the limited effectiveness and potential hazards associated with using mothballs, exploring alternative methods for squirrel repellent is advisable. Here are some strategies you can employ:

1. Natural Repellents

  • Using strong-smelling substances like peppermint oil, vinegar, or garlic to deter squirrels.
  • Planting certain flowers, such as daffodils or marigolds, which squirrels find unappealing.
  • Sprinkling cayenne pepper or chili powder around vulnerable areas.

 2. Physical Barriers

  • Installing mesh screens or covers over vents and openings.
  • Sealing cracks and gaps in the exterior of your home.
  • Placing squirrel-proof caps on chimney openings.

3. Squirrel-Proofing Landscaping

  • Trimming tree branches that provide easy access to your home.
  • Installing baffles or cones on bird feeders to prevent squirrels from accessing them.
  • Creating squirrel-friendly feeding areas away from your home to divert their attention.


Q1. Are mothballs safe to use around children and pets?

A1. No, mothballs are toxic and should be kept out of reach of children and pets. It is best to explore safer alternatives for pest control.

Q2. How long does the smell of mothballs last?

A2. The duration of mothball odor can vary depending on factors such as ventilation and temperature. However, the smell can persist for several weeks to months.

Q3. Can mothballs harm the environment?

A3. Yes, mothballs contain chemicals that can contaminate soil and water, posing risks to plants, animals, and ecosystems.

Q4. Do ultrasonic devices work against squirrels?

A4. Ultrasonic devices emit high-frequency sounds that claim to repel squirrels, but their effectiveness is disputed and may vary depending on the specific device and squirrel behavior.

Q5. Should I hire a professional pest control service for squirrel removal?

A5. If you are facing a severe squirrel infestation or are unsure of how to handle the situation, consulting a professional pest control service is recommended for safe and effective removal.


In conclusion, while mothballs may have some limited effectiveness as a squirrel repellent, they come with potential risks and dangers. Exploring alternative methods, such as natural repellents and physical barriers, is a safer and more reliable approach to deterring squirrels. By implementing these strategies and taking proactive measures, you can create an environment that is less attractive to squirrels and protect your home from their unwanted presence.

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