As a homeowner, one of the last things you’ll hope to discover is a rodent infestation in or around your home. 

With winter approaching, the rodents of Pennsylvania will soon be looking for new shelter inside your house.  

Not only are rodents a nuisance–scratching boards and joists, running across steel pipes, and leaving droppings everywhere–but they can also pose risks to your health and your home. For this reason, it’s essential to control an infestation as soon as possible. 

You may have heard the tales of mothballs being used to control rodent infestations in the past, and you may even be tempted to head to the store or order a pack online to test. However, nearly every expert will advise against their use to control mice, rats, and other small rodents. 

In the following article, we’ll go over what a mothball is, why mothballs shouldn’t be used to control rodents, and the proper steps you should take to control a rodent infestation.  

What are Mothballs? 

Mothballs are small, white, round tablets that contain paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene: two chemical fumigants often used as insecticides to kill fabric-eating moths, their eggs, and larvae. If you’ve ever rifled around an old shed or barn where these are commonly used, you’ve probably even seen a pack of mothballs lying around. 

The idea behind mothballs is simple: toss any sweaters or garments that’ll be stored for longer than a month into a drawer or chest along with a mothball. The toxic fumes released by the insecticide tablets will kill any existing insects and ward off others, keeping your clothes damage-free. 

Unfortunately, some people have adopted this idea for rodents and other insects. Essentially, if you drop a couple of tablets near their points of entry or common dwellings to keep them away, mice should stay away. 

However, experts will confirm that the effects are negligible, if at all noticeable. In addition, there are several issues involving the use of mothballs relating to their toxicity. 

Why You Shouldn’t Use Mothballs as Pest Control

The toxins encased within mothballs are extremely volatile and activate when exposed to the open air. So as soon as you pull them from their packaging, the tablets will begin to fumigate the surrounding air with paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene gas. 

In large enough quantities, these toxins can cause serious damage to blood cells, resulting in hemolytic anemia. This is why mothballs should only be used in tight, enclosed spaces. 

Mothballs also resemble peppermints or other hard candies, making them appealing to small children and pets. Unfortunately, ingestion can cause severe illness, organ damage, and even death.  

For these reasons, mothballs should never be used for anything other than their intended purpose. 

Luckily, there are several safer alternatives to mothballs that are effective at curbing rodent infestations. 

5 Natural Alternatives to Mothballs

1. Essential Oils

Mice have an extremely keen sense of smell, allowing them to detect potential food sources. However, this heightened sense of smell can also backfire when exposed to overwhelming aromas, such as herbal essential oils. 

Peppermint, cinnamon, and cedarwood essential oils are only a few proven scents that mice can’t stand. Spraying them liberally around entrance points and dwellings will often cause mice to look elsewhere. 

2. Fox Urine 

While this may sound odd, fox urine is an effective treatment against mice and other rodents. Since foxes are a common natural predator of mice and rodents, the scent of their urine will often cause rodents to run in the other direction.

In fact, you can find bottles of fox-scented urine at your local hardware store, so it’s not as crazy as you think!

3. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is another simple and safe trick to ward off rodents. When rodents come into contact with cayenne powder that’s been dusted around common paths and entrance holes, the overwhelming sting and scent will quickly teach them to scavenge and find shelter elsewhere. 

4. Ammonia

This common chemical–found in everything from window cleaner to cat urine–produces a strong, unappealing odor that can last indefinitely. When mice take a whiff, they’ll likely become overwhelmed and evacuate the area. 

5. Dryer Sheets

This is probably the most pleasant scent on the list, and while pleasant to our noses, can often overwhelm rodents. Placing common dryer sheets throughout your home, crawl spaces, and attics can cause a sensory overload for mice and rats, forcing them to evacuate your home. 

What Keeps Mice Away Permanently? 

Unfortunately, most scent-based treatments are only temporary. Once the scent wears off, rodents will return right back to their regular activity. For this reason, it’s best to leave treatment for a severe rodent infestation to a qualified professional. However, if you’re willing to take matters into your own hands, here are a few tips and tricks to help rid your home of rodents for good. 

1. Prevention and Exclusion

Like most other pests, the best and most effective way to treat mice, rats, and other small rodents is prevention, keeping the infestation from developing, to begin with. Mice can fit through a dime-sized hole to gain access to your house, making gaps in siding or holes in crawl space vents possible entry points. 

For this reason, it’s best to do a thorough walk-around of your home to assess potential entry points. Simple supplies like caulking and steel wool can be used to plug holes, while fine screens can be used to replace old, damaged attic and crawl space vents. 

2. Keep Vegetation Trimmed and Well-Managed

Mice and rats will often use overgrown trees and shrubs as cover from cats, humans, and other potential predators, allowing them to sneak into homes. By keeping vegetation around your home clean and well-kempt, predators will have a better chance of picking off rodents, and pests will soon avoid low-cover areas. 

3. Contact a Pest Control Expert

If all else fails, feel free to contact your qualified, local pest control experts for assistance. Mice and rat infestations can be incredibly difficult to manage. Hiring rodent control services will ensure your home is free from rodents and protected against future infestations.

So should you use mothballs to treat a rodent infestation? No, and doing so can be quite dangerous. Instead, use a natural alternative, work on prevention, or contact a pest control expert below.

Pest Issues? Contact The Pest Rangers Today.