Is there is a cockroach infestation in your home? You might have surely heard about mothballs and how they can put an end to your pest issues. But, do mothballs repel roaches in the first place?
What is mothballs made of
Mothballs are tiny balls of deodorant and chemical pesticide. These look like crystal balls of white opaque color. Back in the days, mothballs used to have to chemicals, namely paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene. The European Union banned these types of mothballs from 2008. Naphthalene-based products are also illegal in the United States.
Modern mothballs now contain pyrethroids like Transfluthrin. These are meant to be opened in sealed containers where you can fumigate clothes. These improved mothballs are much better compared to the older naphthalene-based ones. However, there are still unpleasant and must be used with caution. Always check the product label before using these products.
Are mothballs necessary
Before using mothballs, there are a few things you need to know first.
Are mothballs harmful to humans
Mothballs contain chemicals that can cause skin damages and nose and eye irritation. Mothballs that contain paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene can cause damages when you breathe in their fumes over time. This can also be especially harmful for young babies and small kids 3 years old and below. These kinds of mothballs should never be used at all cost.
Being exposed to high concentrations of paradichlorobenzene and naphthalene can cause nausea, headaches, coughing, nose or eye irritation, diarrhea, and vomiting. Exposed to these chemicals for a long period of time could cause more serious effects like kidney and liver damage.
Modern Transfluthrin-based mothballs can also be harmful. Skin contact or inhalation of the chemical can cause skin allergies, nervousness, anxiety and convulsions.
Are mothballs harmful to dogs
Just a single mothball could be deadly to dogs if they swallow it. Mothballs contain an insecticide poison that is very volatile and can be dangerous for the red blood cells. Napthalene is two times more toxic than paradichlorobenzene and has been phased out already.
Are mothballs harmful to cats
If your cat accidentally swallows a mothball, he may show some symptoms like pallor, seizures, vomiting, and increased heart rate. Liver damage might happen a few days following the exposure. Death may follow in rare cases if you don’t take your pet to the vet right after ingestion. Using mothballs properly is necessary to keep your pets safe and healthy.
Is it safe to use mothballs in the house
Using mothballs in the confined and safe space of your house can present a lot of potential health problems and risks, especially if this chemical pesticide is used improperly. Mothballs have the potential of making you sick.
The chemicals found in mothballs can prove to be toxic to both animals and humans. This is especially the case if people get exposed to such chemicals that get released in the form of toxic fumes to the home’s air space.
Is it safe to sleep in a room with mothballs
As stated earlier, if you use mothballs improperly and you don’t place them in a sealed and airtight container, the chemicals in the mothballs will escape to your indoor air and might end up compromising its quality and cause potent and strong chemical smells over the environment.
This means that it might be better if you avoid sleeping in a room with mothballs so you don’t expose to its chemical content during your sleep.
Can moth balls keep roaches away
While moth balls cannot kill cockroaches, you can use these to keep these pesky insects away. The smell of the deodorant and pesticide in mothballs can affect cockroaches.
But, there is a possibility that they will adapt to the smell of mothballs soon to the point that they are no longer bothered by it. This might take some time such as one to two years to do so. This means that mothballs can only be used as temporary solution for repelling roaches.
The secret is to change the methods you use for getting rid of roaches to prevent them from adapting fast enough.
Where do you put mothballs to repel roaches
Just like moths, cockroaches hate the smell of mothballs. A common remedy here is to drop some mothballs at the back of the stove so that the bugs don’t hang out there. It will also help to put one or two mothballs inside the cabinet below the sink.
Since mothballs are unsafe for humans, avoid placing them near food prep areas and food.
What can I use instead of mothballs to repel roaches
The following cockroach repellents can do the trick and you can also use them instead of mothballs for your home to stay free from these annoying insects once and for all:
1. Bay leaves
Roaches avoid bay leaves. Grab some bunch of dry bay leaves and put tiny sachets of the crushed leaves or place some whole leaves in cabinets and closets. You can also place these in kitchen cupboards.
2. Cedar products
Cedar wood oils are effective natural repellents for different types of bugs including roaches. You can use thin cedar veneers to line cabinets and drawers, cedar balls, chips, blocks, and others to put in closets and drawers and cedar paneling and boards to line the closet walls to achieve ultimate protection.
3. Mint oil
The main ingredient in most non-toxic cockroach sprays is mint oil. Cockroaches avoid this and they suffocate once coated with mint oil. While these sprays don’t kill bugs as fast as traditional poisons, you can safely use these in your kitchen and around children and pets.
4. Pepper spray
Cockroaches also hate red pepper. They will avoid surfaces in the kitchen and bath if you spray these with a solution that contains red pepper.
How to make natural mothballs
You can also make your very own natural mothballs that are not just safe but also smell and look good. Here are the steps you can follow to do so:
- Put dried cedar chips and lavender flowers on a paper plate and add as much lavender oil and cedar oil as you want. Use the same process for cotton balls but add only cedar oil to them. Allow these to sit overnight for the essential oils to saturate the materials completely.
- Lay out some fabric pieces on a dry flat surface and put one teaspoon of dried lavender flowers in the middle. Add one cotton ball and some cedar pieces on top of the cedar chips and flowers.
- Tie it up after placing the oil-soaked items in the middle of the cloth. Lift all the corners of the cloth and bind them using a string or ribbon. Tie tightly to prevent the dried flowers from falling out.
How to repel roaches naturally
While mothballs can repel roaches, you will be better off if you do it naturally. Here are some of the favorite natural remedies for repelling cockroaches.
1. Boric acid
Boric acid can dehydrate cockroaches as it causes damages to their outer exoskeleton and digestive system and ultimately kill them.
Catnip is found to be an effective natural repellent for roaches. Put catnip around the house, especially in places with roach activity.
3. Clove oil
This is another natural way of repelling roaches that can work best when combined with other essential oils like peppermint extract or citrus oil.
Clovite is one type of vitamin supplement used for horses that can kill roaches. Put clovite in the jar lid and place this in areas where you saw roaches. Leave it there overnight. Just make sure that you keep it out of reach of pets and children.
5. Diatomaceous earth or DE
Diatomaceous earth is a type of powder made from fossilized remains of small aquatic organisms called diatoms. This can make cockroaches dry out and die through absorbing oils and fats from their exoskeletons. You can sprinkle it directly all over the house or mix it with flour and cocoa to be used as bait for attracting roaches.
6. Fabric softener
Cockroaches cannot tolerate fabric softener’s strong smell. Mix it with water in spray bottle. Spray this in places with roach activity. You can use it every day as needed.
7. Fresh coffee grounds
Fresh coffee grounds are attractive to roaches but the caffeine content is toxic for them and can kill them off.
8. Garlic, onion, and cayenne powder
The smell of these three spices is simply loathsome for roaches and they avoid places with this mixture. Sprinkle all or any of these powders all over the house and replace these monthly.
The aroma of lemons is also repellent to roaches. Cut some lemon wedges and put them inside a small container. Put the container in the infested areas around the house.
Neem is one type of natural herb extracted from neem tree. This interferes with roaches and their hormones and stops their breeding activity. Neem bait made from neem seed extract can kill younger roaches and inhibit the adult roaches’ egg laying.
Curious to learn can dettol kill cockroaches, what to expect after an exterminator sprays for roaches and how to get rid of roaches in kitchen cabinets too?
Dr Philip G Cox currently is a professor in Physiology in the Centre for Anatomical and Human Sciences which is part of the Hull York Medical School and the Department of Archaeology at the University of York. Dr Philip G Cox studied comparative mammalian functional morphology for the PhD in the University Museum of Zoology, Cambridge.