Does Mothballs Keep Roaches Away? Reality or Myth!

Various methods can help you to get rid of cockroaches, but does mothball keep roaches away? This blog is for you if you are thinking of using mothballs against roaches.

I will discuss whether mothballs are effective in killing roaches or not. Moreover, I will also guide you about an appropriate method of its application as it dramatically affects its efficacy.

Mothball is basically a combination of chemicals, so you must know its safe use; for this, I have also shared some tips and precautions.

Furthermore, I have experience using different chemicals to get rid of roaches and have been doing research on the effects of various products on these pests for a long time.

So, you will get everything you need to know about the use of mothballs and their effect on cockroaches; now, let’s begin as there is much more to disclose.

Does Mothball Keep Roaches Away?

The answer to this question is yes; mothballs keep roaches away from your belongings and your house; it is proven to be an effective remedy against roaches in repelling them. Thanks to its putrid smell, it generates nerve impulses for the transmission of fear stimuli to the brain. Besides, they possess only repellent properties and are not capable of killing them.

Roaches are sensitive to strong odors, so they greatly impact act on them; some act as repellents for them while others attract them, and mothballs generate gasses having toxic odors for roaches.

In addition, mothballs don’t only repel roaches and keep them away but are also proven to be effective against other pests and insects.

What do you need to Know About Roaches?

Before moving forward, I want to explain some facts about cockroaches that are essential to know before applying any method to kill or repel them, so let’s see.

Roaches belong to the group of insects as they also possess thick exoskeletons and have six legs that help them to run faster than most animals.

Roaches are counted among the fastest animals, so keep this characteristic in mind before applying any insecticidal spray on them. I will advise you to trap them before doing so.

The next thing is that roaches are considered as most obstinate insects as they have adapting abilities and adapt to survive unfavorable conditions.

Therefore, it is hard to get rid of them. Moreover, roaches love the warm temperature, food, and dark shelters that our houses have to offer them; this is why they invade human houses.

Furthermore, these annoying insects can eat any organic food and also other commodities that are made of natural sources such as paper and cardboard. 

So, removing food is not the only solution to get rid of them. In addition, roaches can survive for almost 30 days without food and 7 days without water.

Besides, they can also survive a reduction in oxygen supply for about 45 minutes, so it is tough to kill them.

Why is It Essential to Take Steps Against Roaches?

I have discussed some essential facts about roaches you need to know, but why does everyone want to get rid of them? Do they have any harmful impact on our lives? Let’s find out.

Actually, roaches are primarily associated with fear; I conducted a survey to know the reason why a fearful image is painted in people’s minds by listening to their names.

So I concluded that most people consider them horrible because of their fast running speed, as it seems they are chasing us or want to attack.

While some people consider them strange-looking insects as they are slightly bigger than some other pests with a dirty image because they are primarily found in bathrooms and garbage.

Apart from all these reasons, the matter to discuss is their disease-spreading nature, which is the chief reason behind taking steps against them.

As you know that roaches reside in the garbage and feed on it, they also use the sewer pipes as the shortest and safest route to head into our houses; they carry harmful pathogens from these places.

Pathogens are microorganisms that are responsible for causing diseases in humans, like bacteria, so roaches transmit pathogens that cause typhoid, asthma, cholera, and many others.

Introduction to Mothballs

Before discussing the working of mothballs, let’s discuss a small introduction to mothballs and find out if they have other applications or not.

Mothballs are balls initially made up of a chemical known as naphthalene, so they are of chemical nature; they were first used in 1948 for the sake of killing pests and keeping them away.

In terms of appearance, mothballs look like tiny white balls; you can also come across a flat thin shape, just like the playing pieces of carrom board.

Mothballs are solid forms of pesticides and are capable of changing into gas vapors. They are effective against all the species of moths that are also associated with our clothes.

Besides, mothballs can also kill termites and silverfish; moreover, they can inhibit the growth of molds on your belongings, such as clothes and other materials.

Mothballs, on liquefying, produce gasses that are toxic to some pests and kill them while repelling others due to a foul and putrid smell, such as roaches.

The primary and most common use of mothballs is to protect clothes from pests that feed on wool and fabric and can damage them by their belongings and creating holes.

So, for this purpose, mothballs are placed inside the airtight packaging of clothes, more often when they are placed in the loft at the end of the season.

Percentage Composition of Mothballs

The effect and working of mothballs greatly depend upon their composition, which makes them capable of repelling cockroaches.

Therefore, I have listed the percentage composition of mothballs in the table below, so let’s have a look at these ingredients and chemicals and see their contribution to making mothballs.

1Carbon93.7 %
2Hydrogen6.29 %
3Molecular mass128 g
4Weight0.5 g to 5 g

Mothballs are made of naphthalene; the above table represents the chemical composition of naphthalene and the molecular mass along with the weight of the compound.

Working of Mothballs

You are now familiar with mothballs, but do you know how they actually work for killing pests and keeping them at a distance? 

If not, there is no need to worry as I am going to give a detailed explanation about their working and their effect on pests, including cockroaches.

The working of mothballs basically depends on their composition, so let’s first see what chemicals are involved in making mothballs.

The chief and active compound in mothball is naphthalene which belongs to the class of aromatic hydrocarbons having carbon and hydrogen atoms in its chemical composition.

Naphthalene is an aromatic compound which means that it is capable of producing specific odor at optimum temperature; it has derived this characteristic from its parent compound, benzene.

So on providing room temperature and little moisture, the naphthalene, present in the composition of mothballs, produces gasses having toxic solid odor.

As roaches can smell and have a pair of antennae at their head region for this purpose, they can smell more efficiently as compared to many other insects.

You will be amazed to know that roaches don’t use their eyes to search, identify, or detect food; Instead, they use their sense of smell for this purpose.

Moreover, this property of roaches also helps them to send and receive messages, and they have a developed portion in their brain that can process and store memory of different odors.

So when mothballs produce toxic gasses, roaches use their antennae to smell them and change their way in order to avoid this foul smell.

Efficacy of Mothballs

You have gone through the intro and working of mothballs, but what are the conditions that have an impact on the working of mothballs, and how successful are they in keeping roaches away?

Now, I am going to provide answers to all these questions based on the results of the efficacy study of mothballs. The production of toxic smell undergoes reduction as time passes by.

However, mothballs have the capability to produce toxic fumes for about 2.5 months. The release of gasses also depends on the availability of moisture in the environment.

In an environment with 70 % humidity, the rate of releasing toxic gasses is 80 % which lasts for 60 days. 

However, the life of mothballs can be increased for up to one year when used in a closed environment. Therefore it is more admired to place mothballs in tight jars.

In an open environment, the gasses produced by mothballs mix up with other particles and lose their strong smell; the rate of loss of gasses also increases, which reduces the life of Mothballs. 

Therefore use mothballs to keep roaches away in cabinets, drawers, wardrobes, and lofts instead of bathrooms and bedrooms, as they are less effective in an open environment.

Damaged Caused By Mothballs

There are several adverse health effects that are caused by mothballs when ingested in solid form or when the gasses are inhaled by humans.

The chemical naphthalene can attack CNS and damage the brain cells. Moreover, it also affects the production of RBCs and damages the existing, causing a disease named hemolysis.

Furthermore, it can also cause severe damage to the lungs, causing respiratory and breathing difficulties as initial signs and symptoms.

In addition, it can cause a reduction in the availability of oxygen to cells causing the condition of hypoxia in children.

Do Mothballs Kill Roaches?

Till now, I have discussed the working of mothballs as a repellent that can repel roaches and force them to change their route if they are heading towards your belongings, but do they kill roaches?

Killing a roach is something extra to demand from mothballs, and unfortunately, they cannot fulfill this requirement as they are not designed for killing roaches.

However, mothballs can kill some pests that are extremely small in size, but mainly they are used as repellents to protect items from the attack of reptiles and pest insects, including cockroaches. 

As mothballs produce toxic fumes, which forces some people to think that these fumes can kill roaches by suffocating them, which is not impossible but is not likely to happen.

As I have discussed above, roaches can hold their breath for about 45 minutes. Moreover, the gasses generate the fear response in roaches; as a result, roaches escape the situation.

So, if you want to kill roaches, use some other preferable and effective methods such as insecticides, baits, and traps. Some chemicals are also helpful in killing roaches.

These chemicals include ammonia and boric acid; moreover, using dust can also help you out in killing these irritating insects. Hence prove mothballs cannot kill roaches.

Concluding Lines:

In this article, I have mentioned a detailed explanation of the question: Does mothball keep roaches away? So, mothballs can keep roaches away from your belongings.

But, if you are thinking of using them as a roach killer, you are on the wrong path; I have mentioned some methods you can use to kill roaches, so read carefully.

Moreover, mothballs produce toxic fumes, which can cause serious health issues on ingestion or inhalation, so follow the above-mentioned precautionary measures for safe use.

Furthermore, I have also stated an appropriate method to use mothballs, so follow these for best results. I hope you have learned something interesting from this article.


What Kills Roaches Immediately?

If you want to kill roaches in less time, then make a solution by adding soap to water; this will work by covering the respiratory pores and causing a reduction in the oxygen supply of roaches.

What Naturally Kills a Cockroach?

If you want a natural remedy to kill a roach, use boric acid to kill them effectively, you can mix it with primary cooking ingredients like salt and sugar.

Why Do Cockroaches Suddenly Appear?

The primary source of attraction for roaches is food, so if they suddenly appear in front of you, this means there is a food source nearby to which they are attracted.

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