Why Don’t People Use Mothballs Anymore?

For many people, the smell of mothballs immediately brings to mind an older relative’s closet or heirloom cedar chest. For many decades, people throughout the U.S. utilized these tiny pesticide balls to keep moths, silverfish, and other clothing-chewing insects at bay. This mothball storage and exposure could leave clothing and bedding fragrant with the unmistakable scent of bug repellent.

But while mothballs are still available for purchase, you’re far less likely to find anyone who actually admits to using them to preserve their clothes or prevent an insect problem. How can such a popular pest control method go from ubiquitous to outdated over just a few decades? Read on for three of the primary factors behind the increasing irrelevance of the mothball.

Central Heat and Air Conditioning

Until the late 1900s, most homes lacked central heating and cooling systems. Even window air conditioner units didn’t boom in popularity until the Baby Boomer generation had all gone off to high school and college. For most households, this meant long, hot summer nights spent with the windows open.

Those living in homes that lacked window screens, which was fairly common during that period in history, would often find themselves battling staggering numbers of insects from flies to moths to mosquitoes. Using mothballs to prevent damage to clothing was a far more palatable option than sweltering with closed windows to avoid insect exposure.

Today, most homes have central heating and cooling, portable window units or space heaters, or windows with screens to keep insects out. Even if a few stray moths make it into your home through an open door or hole in your window screen, they’re unlikely to be able to reproduce quickly or effectively enough to do any damage, and will probably be dead within a few days.

Increased Use of Synthetic Fabrics

Moths love natural fibers, particularly wool and cotton; a cotton-wool blend sweater that doesn’t contain any added spandex or polyester is just about any hungry moth’s favorite treat.

However, adding even just a percent or two of artificial fabric to a piece of clothing that utilizes natural fibers is often enough to repel moths. Not only are artificial fabrics totally lacking in nutritional value, they can disrupt moths’ reproductive cycle and sometimes even impede their ability to lay and fertilize eggs. Unless your closet is filled with pure wool, pure cotton, or a blend of the two, you’re unlikely to find yourself facing any moth-generated holes in your clothing.

Improved Home Pest Control

While climate control and fabric blends mean moths are less likely to make their way inside your home and far less likely to find a suitable meal while there, improved pest control services have also played a part in the decline of demand for mothballs. Communities of individuals who are all committed to reducing the insect populations inside their homes can contribute to lower insect numbers throughout the neighborhood.

Whether you utilize a pest control company to treat your home, yard, or both, your commitment to keeping your home insect-free can easily extend to moths. This is true even if you don’t specifically seek out moth eradication services.

Clegg’s Pest Control offers both residential and commercial termite and pest control services throughout North and South Carolina. Contact Clegg’s pest management professionals today at (888) 672-5344.

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