Sounds pretty cheap and easy. No mixing up smelly stuff and spraying, and since it’s not applied to plants – a lot of people think this is a great solution for the vegetable garden. Yikes! Mothballs should make you vacate the area as fast as deer do. These seemingly harmless little balls are more than you bargained for.
Mothballs contain naphthalene; a coal tar or petroleum distillate product. This ‘homemade deer repellent’ is toxic to animals and humans if inhaled, ingested, or through skin exposure. The EPA reports short-term exposure has been found to destroy red blood cells, and neurological, kidney, and liver damage. What do you suppose is happening when you’re lining the veggie patch with them? It’s not any different in the flower bed either.
They melt in the rain, or when hit by your sprinklers. Things that melt in the garden enter the soil, and in this case the dissolved solids attach themselves to the soil particles, and leach into groundwater. Which means, that if the soil is draining to where your cabbages, squash, and what-have-you can access the moisture – it’s going to get into your food.
What kind of soil do you have? If it’s sandy, mothball poison will head straight for water flowing beneath the surface, and quickly attach itself to the sediments in it. An or organic garden will have a nice population of microorganisms in residence, and some of them will attach themselves to the naphthalene and break it down, or change its chemical structure. But this process takes up to 3 months – by which time you’re already eating the harvest. Use commercial fertilizers in your garden? It will take twice as long for microorganisms to finish the process… that is if there are any microbial life left in the soil.
Mothballs can also kill cats, and dogs. It seems it’s a popular way to chase away all manner of wildlife. Pets lick their paws. All they have to do is walk across the area you placed mothballs on to keep deer out of your plants, and the next bathing session might be their last.
Got chickens? Count on your fresh eggs containing some of this poison if they scratch in your garden. Which should bring one to wonder if it is going to affect songbirds out there eating the insects your garden is attracting. And last, but definitely not the least of reasons for concern… young children have been known to eat mothballs, because they look like candy.
Not all the homemade deer repellent tips you find online are good, and as you can see here, they can be really disastrous.
image: these days of mine