An upset parent turned to Reddit for guidance after finding something disturbing in their yard.
The post’s caption read, “My husband and I have found a good number of mothballs by one side of our (fenced) yard TWICE this week. We have two dogs and a two year old child.” Below it is a photo of a hand holding a plastic bag with 10 or so small, white balls inside.
The poster further said, “We’re trying to figure out if this is deliberate by a neighbor (we’ve been in the neighborhood for almost four years with no issues, same neighbors next door), accidental from neighbor’s lawn, or if possibly some animal is dragging them to one spot in our yard?? Whatever way it’s happening, I’m not happy about it.”
The parent is understandably upset, seeing as though mothballs are typically made of naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, both of which are toxic to humans and pets. The chemicals are solids at room temperature but become fumes in the air. Exposure to these fumes can cause headaches, nausea, eye and nose irritation, and coughing.
Children and pets may also easily mistake them for candy or other food and eat them. In extreme cases, mothballs can even cause neurological damage, especially to smaller-bodied pets and children.
Aside from the risk to people and pets, mothballs also damage the environment as they can contaminate soil, plants, and water and cause widespread harm.
However, much of this information may be unknown, and many people mistakenly believe that mothballs placed outside will repel pests like rodents, squirrels, bats, snakes, or other wildlife.
Mothballs are regulated in the U.S. by the Environmental Protection Agency, and their use is illegal in some states when not consistent with the labeling, as one commenter on the post pointed out.
“This might be illegal in your state, or against city codes,” they said. “Moth balls are toxic. Nasty stuff that contaminate soil and get into the groundwater. I would try to contact the EPA or natural resources trust.”
Another took a less aggressive stance as to how to handle the situation, saying, “I would speak to [the neighbors] RE: your pets and child. They may not have realized the potential hazard this could be for you.”
“If a conversation doesn’t get you any answers, buy a camera to stick up and watch the area,” a third said. “Just so you can figure out what’s happening if they don’t know.”
“Some people are under the mistaken impression that mothballs will keep snakes away,” another astutely shared. “For anyone reading this, mothballs don’t work.”
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