Do Mothballs Kill Fleas?

By Jen Davis

Mothballs are quite effective at killing fleas. Pet owners need to use caution while using mothballs because mothballs are toxic to pets. It is important that you understand both the benefits and the dangers of using mothballs before you attempt to control your flea problem with them.

Understanding How Mothballs Work

Mothballs are a type of chemical pesticide that normally contain either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene as the primary active ingredient. They are highly effective because they are composed of nearly 100 percent of the active ingredient. Mothballs work by slowly and gradually releasing a gas vapor which kills and repels moths as well as other insects such as fleas. Mothballs may also be sold or identified as any of the following:

  • Moth repellent
  • Moth flakes
  • PCB
  • Naphthalene
  • Paradichlorobenzene
  • Camphor
  • Organochlorine

Using Mothballs To Kill Fleas

It is possible to kill fleas by putting mothballs inside of your vacuum cleaner, either in the tubes or in the bags if you have an older-style vacuum that still uses bags. You can also sprinkle moth flakes across your carpeting to kill fleas and then vacuum the flakes up.

If you are considering using mothballs to control fleas, you must be extremely careful at all times. Mothballs can make your pets seriously ill if they inhale or consume any part of the active ingredients. You cannot leave any mothballs out in areas where your pets can access them. If you put any type of mothball product on your floors, you must be able to pick up every particle of that product by the time you finish the treatment and before your pets will gain access to the area. Even small amounts of mothballs can make a cat or dog very ill.

Mothball Toxicity

Symptoms of mothball poisoning include:

  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Fluid retention
  • Walking as if drunk
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Kidney problems
  • Tremors
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination
  • Coma
  • Death

If you suspect your pet has come into contact with or eaten mothballs, contact your veterinarian immediately. You may need to obtain emergency medical treatment for your pet.