Will Mothballs Keep Birds Away

Will Mothballs Keep Birds Away- Myth or Truth?

Mothballs are usually used to keep moths, eggs, and larvae from clothes, cupboards, and other areas. The strong smell of mothballs effectively controls pests and keeps them at bay, so can it be used to keep birds away?     

However, mothballs are not effective at keeping birds away. Although it may work for some sensitive birds around your home, it is ineffective. Apart from this, many people advise against using mothballs for birds as it’s a cruel deterrent.

Let’s look at this deeper.

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Why are Mothballs Said to Work as a Bird Deterrent?

Despite disliking that smell, I sometimes resort to using mothballs to keep those nasty bugs off my clothes and out of my cabinets; however, many people seem to think it works for birds as well.

This is why.

The Strong Scent of The Chemicals

The Man Covers His Nose From The Smell

Mothballs have an unbearably strong smell that most insects cannot stand. Sometimes, neither can I!

Mothballs are made from para- dichlorobenzene or naphthalene, which are toxic to humans. These chemicals are usually solids at room temperature and are sold as round balls, cakes, or flakes. It slowly changes into a gas and becomes toxic fumes in the air. This smell is repulsive to insects which keeps them away.

A bird usually uses their sense of smell to look for food, so you know that it’s pretty good. However, they would ignore the repelling smell of the mothballs as it is an inconvenience but not a complete disaster.

The Toxic Effect of Mothballs

The scent of the chemicals is very strong, but it is not enough to keep birds away. So, what about their effect?

Birds are not easily spooked by mothballs and will not want to consume these chemicals, even in a confirmed space. If you put mothballs under your car to keep birds from chewing your wires, you would find them pushing the mothballs away!

They are not affected by the presence of the mothballs, and if they are, they usually get over it by coming to the area over and over.

Are Birds Attracted to Mothballs?

Dead Bird


Actually, birds can see more colors than we can. They are sensitive to the ultraviolet range, so they see colors that are even invisible to us. Usually, you would see mothballs that come in bright colors and in the form of a round ball, which birds play with.

I read on a community forum that birds have been spotting gifting the mothballs to other birds or even fighting each other for them. The enjoyment that birds have when playing and pushing the mothballs around makes this deterrent method cruel.

The fact that they love the mothball, which has the potential to kill them, is an unfortunate circumstance. So, we should avoid using mothballs to keep birds away.

What Smells Will Keep Birds Away

A bird is well aware of what scents they like and dislike. Many of the smells that they dislike are irritants that birds find uncomfortable. Unlike mothballs, these smells do not harm the birds and are not toxic to them.

You can use the following deterrents for birds.


Garlic contains a natural chemical called allicin, which birds absolutely hate. You can use a garlic spray around your home and other areas where you don’t want birds to settle. You can combine crushed garlic with some water to make the garlic spray or add vinegar for an added effect.

The smell will go away pretty quickly, though, so you have to keep re-applying the spray. A garlic spray is also good for preventing the birds from hitting your garden. Garlic masks the attractive fragrance of ripening fruits.  



The strong scent of peppermint irritates birds, so that they will avoid any area with the scent. You can use 100% natural peppermint oil mixed with water and spray it in the specified areas. This spray is also safe to be used on plants.

You can use this recipe to make a peppermint oil spray:

  •  Seven drops of peppermint oil, ¼ cup of vinegar, 7 drops of lemon oil, and ¼ cup of water; mix well and spray on the desired areas.
  • You can also soak some cotton balls with the spray and leave them in the area.


The smell of vinegar can be too much for me sometimes, so it can be an effective aid in keeping birds away. You can easily make a mix of 50-50 vinegar and water, which can be sprayed in the yard to keep the birds away.

Avoid using straight vinegar, as it can harm your building or your plants. Like garlic and peppermint, the smell dissipates quickly, so you should spray the vinegar regularly.


Citronella is a compound found in lemongrass and has a lemony fragrance that we love. However, birds can find scents irritating. You can make a citronella spray to keep the birds away without harming them. The bonus here is that this fragrance is also good for repelling insects.


A Man With A Chili In His Hand

Chilis have a strong, pungent smell that can be too much for us humans sometimes, so birds also find this doesn’t smell very pleasant. You can make a spray with chili pepper, half a gallon of water, and some apple cider vinegar to spray around your home.

You can also sprinkle some chili powder around surfaces that you want the birds to stay away from. Make sure not to do this near kids or pets, as the chili will harm their eyes and noses. Not to mention if they put it in their mouth!

Bird Gel

Bird gel is a commercial product that has a strong peppermint smell. It has a sticky consistency, preventing the birds from landing on undesirable surfaces. Plus, the gel has an ultraviolet light that deflects the birds.

Bird gel will scare the birds away and not harm them. This gel is best for use around your buildings that you don’t want the birds to nest on.

Other Helpful Methods to Keep Birds Away

Apart from using the above sprays, you can also use these methods to keep birds away from your garden and areas of your home.

They include:

  • Bird spikes, which have a pointy tip. This provides an uncomfortable surface to land on, so it will stop them from nesting in your home or garden.
  • Decoys, such as eagle or owl statues. Using the scarecrow tactic, you can put these in your garden to scare birds. You would have to move them around to fool the birds into thinking that it’s real.
  • Hang shiny objects that reflect the sunlight. This includes strips of aluminum foil, small mirrors, old CDs, and other things that are metallic. You can also hang mirror balls, windmills, and pinwheels as they move around in the wind, reflecting or making a noise.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can birds damage your property?

Birds are cute creatures that can actually cause quite a bit of havoc. This includes:

  • Clogged gutters, as birds usually build nests in the gutters. They do this since there is access to water. Their nests can block water, cause flooding, and damage the walls and siding.
  • Acidic droppings- Bird droppings on your roof can eat away at roof shingles and tar, which allows moisture in. It is also a source of disease and germs which can harm your family and pets.

Not to mention that birds will ruin the look of your home! Droppings on your car and pathways can look unsightly. Cleaning the droppings can be such an annoying job!