• Posted by: EPSD Staff

Mothballs are a pesticide.

By: Jim Steelman, Phoenix ESD


Do you have critters in your neighborhood?


The Environmental Services Division receives about a dozen calls each year regarding the use of mothballs to keep domestic animals away from their yard and house. Mothballs containing naphthalene are solids that turn into toxic gas. The toxic gas kills insects and may repel animals.


Mothballs are a registered pesticide in Arizona and their use contrary to what the label states is a violation of the law.


Placing mothballs outside your home unattended goes against what the label allows. This means doing so is a violation of both federal and state laws.


Alternatives to using mothballs outside your home


There are alternatives to help keep critters away from your yard. You can purchase them at your local hardware store or on line. Prices range from around $10 to $30. One of my favorite animal repellent is a motion activated sensor water sprinkler.

Information on the active ingredient: Naphthalene


Mothballs contain the chemical, naphthalene. Labels for mothballs state that if you were near mothballs and suffer from symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and/or vomiting, you may have been exposed to the naphthalene vapors. If so, consult the label for first aid instructions or seek medical attention. Children could be more sensitive to pesticides compared to adults, in this case, naphthalene could be deadly to children.


You may think that because a child or a pet came onto your property uninvited, you are not responsible for the consequences of you placing mothballs on your front yard. The truth is, you are responsible for what happens as a result of applying or otherwise using ANY pesticide contrary to the label. This could range from an administrative fine from AZDA to criminal charges being brought against you.


Mothball labels commonly have the following statements:


Important: Keep out of reach of children. Do not place in areas accessible to children.

Precautionary Statements: Hazards to Humans and Domestic Animals. Maybe fatal in inhaled.

Do not breathe dust or vapors. Harmful if swallowed and harmful if absorbed through skin.


For more information about mothballs, contact the products maker or AZDA at (602) 542-0901.


You may reach Jim Steelman at: jsteelman@azda.gov.

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