RAID typically has an active ingredient of “pyrethrin” which belongs to the pyrethroid family of pesticides. The pyrethroids with a residual action are typically restricted to professional use and are commonly used by exterminators to treat bed bugs. Pyrethrin is a non residual pyrethroid and is widely available to the general public. It kills on contact and soon dissipates to nothing. It is also a repellant.
Pyrethrin does kill bed bugs with direct contact but the difficulty is that it is very difficult to hit the bugs because they are typically hidden in cracks and crevices. Even if a tenant fills a room with 3 cans of aerosol RAID it is unlikely that even 5% of the bugs would die. Some of the bugs will receive sublethal doses and, due to the repellant effect, will scatter the bugs over a wide area. In multi family settings these scattered bugs end up in neighbouring suites.
In one case I was asked to evaluate a 30 plus suite apartment block that had been treated for bed bugs for over a year. I started by asking questions to ascertain what the difficulties were. It turns out that the caretaker had instructed all tenants to immediately spray their baseboards with RAID if they saw a bed bug. As such a single case of bed bugs in the back of the building had in the space of a year spread to the front of the building and a cursory inspection found fully 1/3 of all suites had active bed bugs. And that is after a full year of the exterminator attempting to get rid of the bugs. So……should tenants spray RAID? Only if you hate your neighbour and enjoy your neighbour pushing bugs back to you with similar behaviour 2 months later.
In another case I noticed a tenant had self treated his bed, surrounding furniture, and baseboards with heaping mounds of “Pyrodust” which is pyrethrin in dust form. The suite underneath, of course, had bed bugs as a result. Interestingly enough, in this particular case, the bugs chose to make a large harbourage about 25 feet away from the bed in a different room on the only undusted piece of furniture in the suite – a stuffed chair. Every night these bugs would march the 25 feet to find their host and march right back to their stuffed chair. Other untreated items such as smoke detectors and computers, I am sure, also became infested as a result.
As a general rule I have found that suites that had been self treated by tenants require much more time to get rid of the bugs. I attribute that finding to the scattering effect of self treatment. What we learn here is that just because it is legal to self treat for bed bugs does not mean its wise.