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Do mothballs repel moles?

No. Mothballs do not keep away moles, but before you give up hope on this pesticide, it can still be helpful for moles.

March 6, 2022

10 min read time

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There’s nothing more annoying than seeing your garden invaded by pests, especially very destructive ones like moles and voles. These types of pests can completely ruin your garden, hurt your plants, and make you give up on gardening.

While there are a lot of home remedies and chemicals that are touted to repel moles, one that’s very common is mothballs. Many people believe mothballs can effectively get rid of moles once and for all.

But do mothballs work, or are they just another old wives’ tale?

We’re going to take an in-depth look at these pesticides and see if they work against a mole problem or if you would be wasting your time using them.

How do moles look like?

Moles are rodents, with a smooth fur that looks very soft, almost like velvet. They have tiny eyes covered by fur, and unlike most rodents, they do not have an external ear.

Instead, they have an ear canal covered by lots of furs. Moles are usually 6 to 9 inches long, although some species don’t grow up to 6 inches in length.

So, if you see an animal that fits the description above with long digits and a hairless, pinkish snout, you can be sure you are dealing with a mole.

What does a mole tunnel look like?

Now before you think of getting mothballs, it’s essential to know if you are even dealing with miles in the first place. So let’s look at how moles look before we look at where they live.

Moles naturally spend most of their time underground, so it won’t be that easy to spot right in your garden.

The first sign of mole damage you would notice in your garden are molehills. Molehills are mounds of earth dug up by moles. Vole holes are smaller.

Molehills are not just small portions of the soil. They can be higher than an average pair of stilettos! Some molehills even measure bout 10-12 inches tall and can be as wide as 2-4 inches in diameter.

Secondly, you would notice that your lawn looks disorganised, with long patches of the earth here and there.

These paths are usually without grasses or plants, and if you have tubers underground, they can be damaged. A mole might destroy the roots of the plants as it tunnels.

How are mole tunnels formed?

Isn’t it surprising how a mole that doesn’t measure up to 10 inches in length can make extensive tunnels across your garden? Well, moles have many features that make digging a walk in the park.

First of all, moles are naturally built for digging. They have extensive claws that help them move through soil seamlessly. It’s almost as if they glide through mud. In addition, they possess a strong set of front teeth that complement their digging efforts.

Moles are also wited to make it easy for them to navigate soil. They have a smaller frontal region, making them streamlined. In addition, their heads are not round but somewhat elongated, making it easy for them to move in your garden.

Primarily, moles dig to make a home for themselves and look for food. So if there’s a lot of food in your garden, then moles would have a field day hunting for food.

What do moles eat?

Moles love to feast on insects and small rodents.

They are carnivores, so be rest assured they won’t eat any of your garden crops.

However, if insects are abundant in your yard, moles will attract your garden. Research shows that a single mole can eat up to 50-100 grams of grubs in a day.

What are mothballs?

Before we go into what mothballs are, let’s look at what they are to understand how they work on moles.

Mothballs are pesticides originally intended for moths. Moths damage clothing with time. So the idea of a simple pest control method was invented.

These insect-repelling balls are made of either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene.

Do mothballs keep away moles?

No. Mothballs do not keep away moles, but before you give up hope on this pesticide, it can still be helpful for moles.

Moles don’t like the smell of mothballs and would try to avoid them as much as possible.

Mothballs are usually used in enclosed spaces like wardrobes or airtight containers to saturate the air around them quickly. But in mole tunnels, there is more than enough air to significantly reduce the effect of these mothballs.

What do mothballs do to moles?

You can still use mothballs to chase away moles as they can drive moles out of your garden. For this, you would add to insert the mothballs into mole tunnel systems.

The mole tunnels you use must be active, one used by the mole. If you put the mothballs in an inactive tunnel, it would not be effective as the mole won’t contact it. Later in this article, we will explain how to check for an active tunnel.

It would be best if you had a handful (or two of these mothballs, depending on the extent of mole damage In your garden). By simply placing mothballs at least 7 inches from each other, you make the mothballs more effective.

The smell of mothballs irritate moles, so they abandon that tunnel altogether or leave your garden for good.

However, mothballs do not make your mole problem magically disappear.

Without other control measures, moles would dig up another tunnel and abandon the one with mothballs.

They could also displace the mothballs when digging through, making them ineffective. This is why you shouldn’t depend on mothballs to get rid of moles.

Are mothballs harmful to humans?

Yes. Mothballs and moth flakes are harmful to humans.

Do not be deceived by how they look; mothballs are toxic pesticides that release gases that can constitute health problems over time.

Also, adding mothballs to your garden is dangerous as the gases they release can seep into your soil and be taken up by plants.

If mothballs don’t work, what can you use to get rid of moles?

Head over to the next section.

What is the fastest way to get rid of moles in your yard?

Traps are the fastest way of eliminating moles from your yard. This is because live traps can catch moles immediately when digging: you can quickly deal with your mole problem overnight as 1-2 moles are usually found on a medium-sized lawn.

The first thing you need to do is find an active tunnel.

How do you know a tunnel is active?

Finding an active mole tunnel is critical as most methods require one in mole control. Tunnels could be likened to the houses of moles, where they live, feed and breed.

Like we said earlier, any control method that involves an inactive tunnel would likely not work. To know if a tunnel is active or not, use your feet to level the tunnel gently. If you do this too harshly, the mole might get frightened and avoid that tunnel as it would collapse.

If the trap becomes raised the next day, you know the mole has recently passed there, and the tunnel is confirmed active. You can use many traps to catch moles, but the harpoon trap is what we would be focusing on because it’s pretty easy to set up.

How to set a harpoon trap for moles

  • Use your feet to press down the soil again gently. This time you are doing it to ensure the trap can stand solidly in the soil.
  • The trap’s legs should be on both sides of the tunnel, so the more can be caught easily. Ensure the legs go deep into the soil, at least 6-7 inches.
  • After setting the trap firmly, test it 3-5 times by tugging the harpoon spring. If you encounter any obstructions during the testing process, remove as many obstacles as you can find or look for an obstacle-free area.
  • Ensure that the pan and trap set lever make enough contact. If you skip this step, your efforts might go to waste.
  • Monitor your trap. If you don’t see results in a day or two, it’s acceptable to either change position or check if the trap is working well.

A harpoon trap is the fastest and safest pest control method for a mole since you can’t use violent traps in most places. By the time you see a mole in your trap, release it into the woods. It does not kill moles.

What do moles hate the smell of?

If you’re not a fan of setting traps or baits to kill moles, you can use strong-smelling items to repel moles from your yard. Moles, found almost on every continent, have a powerful sense of smell that allows them to hunt for food.

You can use this to your advantage for pest control with the aid of any of the following items:

Dog poop:

Yep. Dog poop is more valuable than you think.

You can use smelly dog poo to deter moles by placing molehills, especially where they enter and leave their tunnels. The pests should be out of your space with time.


Do you know you can use smelly fish? This foul smell is exactly what you need to repel moles! Take some fish from yesterday and put it all around molehills and tunnel entry points. Moles won’t come close to such places again.

Castor oil

Castor oil is an excellent mole repellent and vole repellent, as it chases away moles the same way peppermint oil does.

Castor oil mixed with dish soap can help significantly reduce mole populations. The smell of castor oil is good at repelling moles while leaving your vegetable garden unaffected. Castor oil is not harmful to humans.

What can I use as a mole repellent?

If you’re not ready to get some smelly dog poop or fish across your yard, then you can use any of these as a mole repellent:

Noisy devices:

Anything from ultrasonic devices, radios and pinwheels can be used as a mole repellent and a vole repellent. Moles move away from sound much as possible and avoid areas where you set up these devices.

If you prefer to use a radio, make sure it’s an old model so that in case soil gets into it, it would not bother you much. While using ultrasonic devices, cross-check the labels to endure they are intended for outdoor use.

Solar Sonic Mole Repeller


Do you own a cat or dog?

Any of these animals can help you deter moles. Just place the pet on your flower bed or places with high mole activity. Get ready for a lot of extra work, though, as your pet could tear up your garden while looking for the mole.

Wire mesh:

Another way to deter moles is to set up a wire mesh.

To do this, make a hole 4 feet deep and install mesh at the bottom of the hole.

Then, use mesh to line the sides of the mesh when you’re done, spray it on your plant with a bit of oil and watch it grow without disturbance. This is an excellent war to deal with a pest problem as pests cannot get to your plant.


There are other methods you can use to control moles without mothballs.

The mole population on your property should be small since moles are solitary animals.

It is important to note that not all methods you read online will work. For example, while chewing gum doesn’t solve a pest problem, cayenne pepper does so, even for moles. The methods in this article will help you effectively control moles and keep other wild animals away too!

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