Can mothballs harm cats?

Mothballs are a type of pesticide that are used to control insects. Some people use mothballs to control cats because they believe that the smell of mothballs will keep cats away. However, there is no scientific evidence that mothballs can harm cats.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Controlling pests outdoors is a common summer practice for gardeners, but it's also important to know how to safely and effectively protect against an insect that feeds indoors and can ruin clothing: clothes moths. According to pest management experts and toxicologists from Oregon State University, mothballs, one of the most common methods to control clothes moths, must be recognized as a pesticide that, when misused, can be harmful to humans or animals.

"Mothballs: Proper Use and Alternative Controls for Clothes Moths," written by Dave Stone, assistant professor in the department of environmental and molecular toxicology, and Tim Stock, integrated pest management education specialist, is a new publication.

"The only recommendation that counts is the product label, which is a legal document whose instructions must be followed - particularly on where mothballs may be used and which pests they will control," Stock said.

Mothballs should not be used in attics, crawl spaces, gardens, trash cans, or vehicles because they are often used to control pests other than clothes moths, according to Stone.Squirrels, skunks, deer, mice, rats, dogs, cats, raccoons, moles, snakes, pigeons, and other animals are among them, and their use is prohibited."Placing mothballs in an attic to repel squirrels is a relatively common mistake that almost always results in a persistent and noxious odor throughout the home."

According to Stock, the webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) and the casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella) larvae are responsible for damage to personal belongings in the Pacific Northwest. Clothes moth larvae are shiny white and about a half-inch long.

"Clothes moth larvae do not eat synthetic fibers," he explained, "but only animal fibers such as wool, feathers, or felt."They can, however, chew through synthetic fibers to reach dirt or stains of animal origin." They can also damage clothing that contains both synthetic fibers and wool or other animal fibers, but only on garments that have been left undisturbed for an extended period of time.

According to Stone, mothballs (or cakes, crystals, tablets, bars, and flakes) contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene as active ingredients. "Both chemicals are fumigants, which means their volatile chemicals will vaporize at lower temperatures, such as room temperature," Stone said."Naphthalene has been linked to adverse health effects such as headache, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty breathing," according to the EPA. "Paradichlorobenzene is also a potential hazard, though typically in lower concentrations than naphthalene."

Following the label instructions will limit exposure to these chemicals and most effectively control the moths; it is also a legal requirement."When using mothballs, never mix active ingredients such as naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene," Stone advised.

According to the authors, mothballs should be used in an airtight space, such as a garment bag or well-sealed container, never in an open closet or plastic garbage bag. "Once vapors enter the home, their odor can be detected at a few parts per billion in the air," Stone said.(One part per billion is equivalent to a few drops of water in an Olympic-sized pool.)

Alternatives to mothballs

Those who prefer not to use chemical treatments have other options for controlling clothes moths.

The best way to keep moths out of your at-risk (animal-fiber) clothing is to clean it according to the manufacturer's instructions and store it in airtight containers, according to the authors.

"You must do more for existing clothes moth infestations," Stock advised. "Vacuum drawers and closets with a HEPA vacuum cleaner."Vacuum furniture and other places where food sources such as lint, pet hair, and human hair can be found; lint and hair that has been left undisturbed for an extended period of time are prime breeding grounds for clothes moths."

After vacuuming, immediately dispose of the vacuum bag. Boric acid dust can be used to treat cracks and crevices after infested items have been removed and cleaned.However, the authors warn readers to always adhere to the label requirements when using boric acid dusts.

"For stored clothing that is not kept in airtight containers, place the clothing in the dryer or the sun once or twice a month to destroy larvae," Stock advised. "Shake or brush the clothes before putting them back in the drawer or on the hanger."This will aid in the removal of any remaining eggs and larvae."

More information can be found in "Mothballs: Proper Use and Alternative Controls for Clothes Moths."

If you want to learn more about this topic, visit OSU Extension: Healthy Homes.

What are cats' reactions to mothballs?

Mothball fumes can cause red, runny eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, and/or coughing in pets. Cats are more sensitive to mothballs than dogs, but other species can become ill as well.

Is the odor of mothballs dangerous to pets?

The chemicals in mothballs are toxic to humans and pets, and people are exposed to them by inhaling the fumes.You are being exposed to these chemicals if you smell mothballs.. People are exposed to the chemicals in mothballs by inhaling the fumes. If you smell mothballs, you are being exposed to these chemicals.

Will moth balls kill stray cats?

While mothballs are extremely toxic to both cats and dogs, they can be used safely as a cat repellent to keep stray cats out of your yard. Place several mothballs in a glass container, poking holes in the lid, and place in areas where you don't want cats.they can be safely used as a cat repellent to keep stray cats out of your yard. You can place several mothballs in a glass container, poking holes in the lid, and place in areas that you want to keep cats out.

What kinds of animals are kept at bay by mothballs?

Mothballs are sometimes used illegally to repel pests that are not listed on labels, such as squirrels, skunks, deer, mice, rats, and snakes, among other animals.