moth balls?

nac_mac_feegle(Hamilton, On)October 19, 2005


I'm trying to keep the voracious squirrels from eating the little bulbs I want to plant under my Maple.

I've read various places (including this forum's FAQ) that you can use moth balls. Other places say 'don't-don't-don't'.

Can you use them? How is it done?



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blueheron(z6 PA)

I wouldn't.

I read that you could add 2 tsps of garlic oil (not garlic extract) to a spray bottle and spray it around the area to repel squirrels. You get the oil at a health food store.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 7:49PM
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nac_mac_feegle(Hamilton, On)

Thank you. Anyone else wanna weigh in?

Are mothballs as toxic as they smell?

I may try the garlic, however, the problem with any of that kind of thing (hot pepper oil/flakes/powder, blood meal, etc.) is that every time it rains you have to reapply.

I may try using hardware cloth (chicken wire would be too big) held down with tent pegs. Ha!


    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 10:18PM
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jackied164(z6 MA)

last year I pegged chicken wire with anything that would work over sensitive bulbs and put stones over the rest (removed after the ground froze). Mostly I think it worked but there was an odd paucity of acorns last year and I kind of think the squirrls left because of it. I think anything that you can think of until the ground freezes will work.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 10:39PM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

There are 2 kinds fo mothballs.....the camphor kind and the phenol kind.....the phenol kind kill bugs.....the camphor kind just repel them.
I have used both kinds to try to keep out critters from my bulb beds...they work with varying success.
Phenol type mothballs are not toxic unless in an enclosed space, or unless something eats them.
Linda C

    Bookmark   October 19, 2005 at 11:57PM
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blueheron(z6 PA)

According to Mike McGrath, former editor of Organic Gardening Magazine:

VERY IMPORTANT! Don't ever use mothballs or flakes. Those little toxic waste pellets destroy cats' kidney function, could seriously harm people who handle them, and yes, contaminate your garden soil. Their packaging even warns against using them this way."

I wouldn't use ANY kind of moth balls in the garden OR in my house.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 12:28PM
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nac_mac_feegle(Hamilton, On)

You guys rock!!

I really appreciate all the help.

Blueheron (love the name, BTW), thanks for the MMcG note. I had forgotten he was still poking around since he left OG (which gets thinner every issue - boo).

I knew they were basically toxic, but kept coming across suggestions to use them in this way. I don't use them in my house; I guess I thought that maybe the stuff got diluted enough outside....

Anyway, I won't use them. I guess I'll try to cover them until the ground freezes, and use some blood meal as well. Not the best time of year to be adding all that nitrogen, but better than losing ALL THOSE BULBS!!!

I'm also hoping that there will be enough icky daffodils that they'll stop looking for my crocus. Yeah. Right.

Thanks again for all your collective help. It's really nice to have a resource like this available.

The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese....

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 10:07PM
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I too have heard that moth balls are toxic to many different organisms. Especially cats. You could try using hot pepper powder near your bulbs, that stuff kept racoons off my porch roof and squirells off my pumpkins. I'm not sure how the powder would effect your soil and might need an unpractical amount of it. It's worth considering though, that stuff is pretty strong.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2005 at 11:33PM
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merrygardens(z5 MI)

Hot pepper powder is not good for cats, either. They get it on their paws, and use the paws for cleaning themselves.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2005 at 11:04AM
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Iwalani(Sunset 24/z10)

Always read the instructions on a package of any pesticide or chemical or product you are purchasing. If you don't follow manufacturers directions then you are breaking the law in many states (I know in California if a product says "can't be used outdoors" and you use it outdoors, just an average consumer product, you can be fined or held legally accountable for breaking the law if caught etc.)

Mothballs in California are labeled to ONLY be used in enclosed spaces (Ie: A closed rubbermaid plastic container.) I don't know how other states label them or sell them so I will try to not assume that the packages are labeled as such everywhere.

On a side note: Thank you for posting the McG quote! Its all very true. The last place you want to use mothballs is outside...(Does anyone use them at all anymore?? They're really toxic! You can use sticky traps for some species of moths and herbs to repel, cedar, etc. Our 'containers' have really improved in terms of keeping items safe since mothballs were invented so I don't think they're really necessary anymore in my opinion.)

For bulbs they make a specific 'bitter tasting' dipping solution (which I think is mainly peppers and unpleasant tasting items, not heavy chemicals-- since it coats the bulbs the cats are fine unless they decide to dig up a bulb and bite into it...) that I think Brent and Becky's Bulbs sold last time I remember seeing it discussed. Of course there are always physical barriers of wire (like chicken wire) you can use to prevent the squirrels or voles from digging into a precious bulb lot.

So is using mothballs really recommended in this forum's FAQ? Is anyone interested in looking into changing that or at least adding : Do not use if it conflicts with labeled instructions on box... ?

    Bookmark   October 22, 2005 at 1:02AM
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Ok, so they're cute, but.... in the last 24 hours, they've eaten EVERY baby strawberry and blossom and even uprooted several and tossed the roots around. Then in the process of digging, they snapped off a tomato plant that was just about bloom. Short of a shot gun...any ideas? I've heard laying chicken wire around the plants works cuz they don't like the feel of it on their feet. I've also heard castol oil diluted in water. I know there's a product on the market that you shake around the plants (dehydrated wolf urine....charming).
The culprits are two young squirrels, new to the area. I've NEVER had this problem before and have gardening in same spot now for 5+ years.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 9:59PM
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I read on another site that you can get a medicated powder to sprinkle around and they don't like it. I can't think of the name to save my life, but the ladies said they usually go to the dollar store to get it generic. I got it, the medicated gold bond. I have never tried it, but I could see where animals wouldn't like the smell. Has anyonne else out there tried this?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2007 at 8:41AM
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