<< I have had a client contact me for information about organic control
of racoons in his sweet corn. He has heard from "an oldtimer" that he
can spread mothballs around in the field and it will deter racoons.
He is wondering if the mothballs can be considered organic and if not,
what other methods there may be in the control of racoons.
<<Mothballs are not necessarily organic, especially today. They used to be
made of camphor, but are now of napathalene (c10h8 - derived from petroleum
or coal tar).
I don't know what mothballs were made from in the past, but the book
"Toxics A-Z" by John Harte, et al, says they are indeed currently made from
napthalene and are quite toxic - especially to children and the 100 million
people worldwide who have G6PD deficiency. Effects can include nausea,
vomitting, disorientation, altered kidney function, possibly causing
cataracts, delayed disruption fo red blood cells, headache, confusion,
excitement or malaise, profuse sweating, and irritation of the bladder. It
also bioaccumulates in aquatic organisms and accumulates in lake and stream
sediments, at levels up to 100X more than the amount measured in overlying
So I don't know if moth balls are specifically mentioned as being forbidden
in organic, but if they aren't by the letter, they surely must be by the
principle. I would also like to recommend that people not use them for
storing clothes, and find alternatives like cedar instead. Napthalene is
also used in carpet cleaners, typewriter correction fluid, adhesives, and
toilet bowl deodorizers; as well as in industrial processes for making
solvents, fuels, etc. The US produces 300,000 tons of napthalene each
NOTE: Another resources lists moth balls as being made from
paradichlorobenzene, which I believe is also quite toxic; this is an older
book, so it might be older information.
Hope you find this info useful -