You’ve got bug problems around your garden, and you’re wondering if that can of Raid spray is going to help or finish your plants off.
Raid spray may not harm your plants (some plants are more sensitive than others), but there are numerous reasons to keep it away from your garden. It has a negative effect on human health, pets (permethrin especially can cause serious health problems), and will kill on contact beneficial insects and pollinators (butterflies and bees). Avoid using Raid on edible plants.
Is Raid Spray Toxic to Plants?
When used as directed, Raid is (usually) not toxic to healthy plants, although Raid warns against applying Home & Garden to young and edible plants. The residue from Raid may also prevent plants from completing necessary functions for life, like photosynthesis and respiration. Some plants will be more sensitive to phytotoxicity than others, so one plant may be fine but another may die.
Raid is harmful to humans, pets, aquatic life, and beneficial insects like predators and pollinators. Outside of a few pests, beneficial predators will eat the pest for you. Using Raid on flowers will kill important pollinators like bees and butterflies.
When using Raid for garden pest control (or any insect control), it’s important to consider whether you’re ultimately doing more harm than good. Alternative methods can be more effective with fewer negative impacts on the surrounding environment. Sometimes it can be as easy as hosing down a plant. When using Raid, use only as spot treatment! Raid advises against blanket spraying.
Does It Matter the Type Of Raid Spray?
The type of Raid spray does matter for the health of the plant. Some Raid sprays are not rated for use on houseplants or ornamental plants. (There’s no Raid spray you can apply to edible plants!)
Initially, House & Garden seems like it’d be safe to use on your garden plants. It’s right in the name, right? But look at the label. It’s only allowed for use for SPOT TREATMENTS on ornamental plants (Raid is not allowed around food), and only those that aren’t in bloom (and likely to come into contact with pollinators like bees, which it will kill). You also must make sure that it won’t drift on the wind onto other plants (even weeds, as many are important pollinator-friendly flowers), and that it can’t be washed off into storm drains or used around water.
Residual Raid sprays will continue to kill insects that come in contact with it even after the spray dries, which makes them especially dangerous to beneficial insects.
What To Do If You Accidentally Sprayed Raid Over Your Garden
If you accidentally spray Raid on your garden, don’t panic. While it can feel devastating when you’ve dedicated yourself to organic growing, your garden will survive. Wipe up the spray as best you can using warm, soapy water (ensuring that the soapy water doesn’t soak into the soil) and remove the top layer of soil.
For edible plants, depending on your risk tolerance, you may either wish to wash produce thoroughly with warm, soapy water before eating or throw away the plant entirely.
What Are Some Raid Alternatives for Garden Use?
Research The Specific Pest for Non-Toxic Or Low-Toxic Solutions
The one action you can take that will make the most difference is to identify the specific pest. Once you know the pest, you can find out things like if they’re actually a danger, what their natural predators are, how to disrupt their reproduction, and how to prevent them. Sometimes you might find that simple changes such as watering less (like for fungus gnats) can reduce and even prevent problems in the future.
This research will also help you figure out what really works, what doesn’t, and what’s overkill (like Raid).
Invite Beneficial Predators To Your Garden
Beneficial predators are one of the best organic methods for keeping pests down in your garden. While it takes some time, planning, and above all, extreme patience while your poor babies are being terrorized by pests, ultimately beneficial predators will keep pest populations low and manageable. Beneficial predators include ladybugs, lacewings, hover flies, and parasitic wasps, and most of them are eating machines.
The best way to attract these predators is to plant their favorite flowering herbs and allow them to flower, but sometimes, if you’re in a pinch, you can buy insect eggs to release into your garden. (Or even pick up ladybugs you see outside of your garden and leave them on your infested plants.)
Spray Pests Off Plants With Water
When it comes to pests like aphids and mealybugs, simply spraying plants with water to remove the pests from the foliage can work wonders. For mealybugs, you can also take it one step further and swab them with rubbing alcohol. They die immediately on contact, turning brown.
Apply Insecticidal Soap
If you need a step up from mechanical methods, insecticidal soaps are an effective and one of the most non-toxic pesticides available for soft-bellied pests. Many insecticidal soaps are rated for organic gardens. Before buying a product, check that it’ll work against your particular pest. Once it dries, it won’t hurt anymore insects.
Controlling wasps can be as easy as spraying the nest with a mixture of insecticidal soap or dishwashing liquid and water. If bees are your problem, don’t kill them. Contact your local beekeepers who will be happy to come collect them to establish a new hive.
Use Borax or Diatomaceous Earth
While the above are great for common garden pests, what about cockroaches? More environmentally friendly options include borax and diatomaceous earth, although they both must be kept away from children and pets. DE breaks down the cockroaches’ hard exoskeleton and kills it through dehydration. Borax combined with sugar for bait will also dehydrate them.
While Raid should be kept away from your plants, if you do accidentally spray them, then wash the affected plants with soapy water. If pests are attacking your plants, research the specific pest as you’ll also find other effective methods for controlling them.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.