Mothballs Won’t Help You Exterminate Pesky Bed Bugs

Mothballs have a long history of being used for pest management and prevention. As their name suggests, they are widely used to prevent damage from flying insects such as clothes moths. They are small balls of chemical pesticide and deodorant, which people also claim can help with snakes, bats, rodents, and silverfish, as well as bed bugs.

Many of these claims fall into the category of myths or old wives’ tales because the composition of mothballs has not been able to effectively treat much beyond moths and, to some degree, mold.

The common myth says that the unappealing smell of the chemicals used in mothballs will kill and repel bed bugs. The truth is, however, that mothballs can only partially protect the immediate area where they are placed, so they will not kill all bed bugs during an infestation. Their effect cannot permeate or even reach all areas where a bed bug can hide. In addition, the noxious or harmful odor of mothballs is likely to disperse the bed bugs and push them into other areas of a room, or other rooms altogether. This dispersion will allow bed bugs to thrive in new areas while infant nymph bed bugs and unhatched eggs remain in the first room to spread the infestation.

Today, most mothballs contain either naphthalene or PDCB (paradichlorobenzene). The active chemicals in mothballs have changed over the years, as the US Department of Health and Human Services has found different types of mothballs to be carcinogenic. As such, the current chemicals in mothballs are considered to be poisons. Mothballs are also considered to present a choking hazard for small children and pets, who may mistake them for candy or treats.


Do not try to treat a bed bug infestation with mothballs because they are ineffective and potentially harmful. A pest management professional can recommend much more safe and cost-effective methods. Consult with one find the most appropriate and affordable method for your home.

To meet with one of our pest management professionals today to learn about effective bed bug removal methods, give our office a call and visit our website.

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