Do Mothballs Keep Gophers Away?

Do Mothballs Keep Gophers Away

You will be given many hacks and tips on how to repel and deter gophers from your backyard. Some are ridiculous and will never work. And then you have mothballs for gophers as a deterrent…

Using mothballs to get rid of gophers falls somewhere in the middle of practical and ridiculous, and I will explain why. 

Do mothballs keep gophers away?

Mothballs do not keep gophers away from your backyard or lawn. However, mothballs can repel and deter them from a particular area of your yard, but the gophers will create a new hole. Using mothballs for gophers can create more damage to your backyard. 

Here’s what I mean…

Gophers do not like the smell of mothballs so will typically try to avoid them. Mothballs contain an ingredient called naphthalene which gives off a pungent scent. This is great when the gophers are in an enclosed space, as the mothballs will be more potent, but achieving this is never practical.

For example, when you ask someone how to use mothballs to keep gophers away, they will tell you to do several different things. 

  1. Place mothballs in your backyard or garden.
  2. Push mothballs down a gopher hole.

Let’s consider both methods. 

Firstly, if you put mothballs above ground, there’s enough air circulating to render their smell and scent so much weaker than if they are in a tunnel. Whilst it might irritate a gopher, it doesn’t take much for them to avoid a mothball on your lawn.

And realistically… how many mothballs would you need to cover your backyard with to be confident you’ve got rid of the gopher problem?

But what about pushing mothballs down holes to get rid of gophers?

You’d think that would work better, and there’s an element of truth to it.

However, it won’t make the problem disappear. The mothballs will irritate the gopher, but only enough to block their hole so they then go and make another.

And guess what? You now have another gopher hole in your lawn to deal with.

gophers mothballs

There’s every chance the gopher could burrow past the mothballs too, simply displacing them so reducing their effect. 

The bottom line is this: mothballs do not kill gophers, and they are not an effective deterrent to repel them from your backyard. 

How to deter gophers without mothballs

So, what should you do instead?

Well, don’t waste your time trying to use mothballs to keep gophers away. Instead check out my guide to ridding a yard of gopher holes. Once you’ve got rid of the critters, you can then destroy the tunnel and get your lawn back in shape.

There are other considerations as well. The environment, your health, and the law. 

For example, did you know that it’s illegal to use mothballs outside in some scenarios? Here’s quote from the LA Department of Health:

“Another misunderstanding is the use of mothballs in outdoor areas to repel rodents, squirrels, bats, snakes, or other wildlife. Mothballs are ineffective for this use and can contaminate soil and water. Using mothballs as animal repellents is not appropriate and can be illegal.”

Mothballs are also very dangerous, particularly to children. Many of them have the appearance of candy, and there have been reports of young kids ingesting them. I won’t list the various health effects here, but they are many.

If you are going to use mothballs to repel gophers, other wildlife is also at risk. 

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