GARDENING: Keep Squirrels Away with Moth Balls? YUP!

Gardeners everywhere have critter problems. As much as I love the cute bunnies, it drives me crazy when they decimate my green beans and eat new arugula shoots! Gardening is hard work and a labor of love. Nothing is more frustrating than having animals trample on it. But hey, it's there earth, too. And everyone needs to eat, right? So how can you let them live and help your plants live in the process? Quite a conundrum.

A couple of weeks ago, my Dad showed me an odd contraption he made based on the advice of a farmer he met. They were commiserating over squirrel issues. My father is always at war with them over his beloved peach trees. The farmer told him that squirrels hate the smell of moth balls and once they smell it, they will stay away from it. So My dad created these hanging moth ball sacks under plastic cups.
The first day, he saw two squirrels climb the tree, then run away. He hasn't seen one since. I am not sure how these work in heavy storms, you may need to replace the balls after a heavy rain. But my Dad so far is quite impressed with how these are working out. Maybe they will work for you?

You will need:

Moth balls
Outdoor twine

Plastic cups

Duct tape or electric tape

Thin wire screening used for windows or thin fishing netting


Poke a hole at the top of the cup. Cut a 7 x7 square of netting. Grab a handful of mothballs and pile in the center. Using the twine, tie the sack off at the top. Let the twine go as long as you need it to tie on your tree or bush, and cut it. Now thread the twine through the inside of the cup out, so the cup is a hat or cover on the sack. Pull it through. Now tape the top of the cup to secure the twine in place and not let any damp go through the hole. Tie the other end of the twine on your tree or bush and voila. Squirrels are in your neighbors yard-not yours!

Do these look odd hanging in your yard? Yes. They did at my dad's. I am sure they are driving my Mom crazy. But one thing that might be fun is if you or your children paint the cups with different designs and such. Then they will look like a bird feeder or something more decorative than utilitarian, and they are a good kid's project for the "I'm bored!" crowd.


HI readers-

I felt it the responsible thing to add some content to this post after I have had a few readers take me to task. Evidently mothballs are pretty toxic, and yes, they do keep moths away. A recent reader shared the following content with me and I am sharing it with you. If you do decide to use mothballs to keep pets away, you need to weigh the pros and cons very seriously. Believe me, I understand the frustration and anger of squirrels tearing up your garden, flowers, fruits and vegetables and if mothballs work for you, you may not quite care about the cons. But in an effort to give a balanced point of view and honor my audience, I am sharing some cons according to one thoughtful reader. They are very compelling-one is that using them around fruit trees are illegal? That's news! 

...Using mothballs for anything other than their intended purpose is not only illegal but a tremendous health hazard.
Mothballs are saturated with either one of two pesticides, Naphthalene or Dichlorobenzene. Long term exposure to naphthalene may damage or destroy red blood cells, causing a condition known as hemolytic anemia. Long term exposure to Dichlorobenzene, of course, causes cancer.

So some, not so bright, individuals thought of using mothballs in their attics as a deterrent for nesting squirrels, but apparently the pesticides are heavier than air causing the vapors to eventually drift down into the living space of the home where the occupants were breathing them in and out all day long.

Using mothballs in fruit or nut trees is also illegal and a health hazard. Bottom line is that mothballs are intended to be used only against the Tineola bisselliella, otherwise known as the Common Clothes Moth. Other than being locked in a foot locker full of cloths in the basement or in a box of cloths kept in a mini storage unit, you should not be using mothballs.


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