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Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Bed bug alert!

Andrea Mayfield

it's about the journey.....
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (May 2015)
Camino Portugues - Porto to Santiago (June 2018)
Albergue Tras do Convento in Samos - across from the monastery - has a bedbug issue. I received countless bites as did other pilgrims on October 30, 2022. I made the mistake of sleeping in their sheets and not my treated sleeping bag. Cortisone to the rescue. No fun....
 
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Oh gosh, I stayed there in May. I checked the bed first, like always. The summer must have not been kind to this place.
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

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So this was a week ago? If you reported it, it's likely to be sorted by now. Remember that bed bugs can surface anywhere, anytime.. from Paradors to donativos.
Reporting it to the hospi (at the time) and heat cycling all your stuff is all that's needed.
 
So this was a week ago? If you reported it, it's likely to be sorted by now. Remember that bed bugs can surface anywhere, anytime.. from Paradors to donativos.
Reporting it to the hospi (at the time) and heat cycling all your stuff is all that's needed.
I checked the bed, mattress, pillow etc. And found nothing. It's just a reminder to be EXTRA careful!
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Yes. They provided coins for washing clothes.
Washing clothes won’t kill the bugs. You need heat, and it’s actually better to throw the clothes into the dryer directly without washing them first, because they will heat more if they start out dry. 50 degrees C in the dryer for at least 20-30 minutes is what I was taught by a very competent hospitalera.
 
Washing clothes won’t kill the bugs. You need heat, and it’s actually better to throw the clothes into the dryer directly without washing them first, because they will heat more if they start out dry. 50 degrees C in the dryer for at least 20-30 minutes is what I was taught by a very competent hospitalera.
Good advice for next time
 
. I made the mistake of sleeping in their sheets and not my treated sleeping bag.
Even if you had used your treated sleeping bag you could have been bitten.

Permethrin does not deter bed bugs nor kill them on contact. They can crawl into your bag and get a quick meal.

It does kill them with prolonged contact over a couple of hours. So if a bed bug did manage to get into your treated sleeping bag, it would probably not make it out alive.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Even if you had used your treated sleeping bag you could have been bitten.

Permethrin does not deter bed bugs nor kill them on contact. They can crawl into your bag and get a quick meal.

It does kill them with prolonged contact over a couple of hours. So if a bed bug did manage to get into your treated sleeping bag, it would probably not make it out alive.
What about the pilgie in the bag? :)

Samarkand
 
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So this was a week ago? If you reported it, it's likely to be sorted by now. Remember that bed bugs can surface anywhere, anytime.. from Paradors to donativos.
Reporting it to the hospi (at the time) and heat cycling all your stuff is all that's needed.
Yes and that place is a good spot usually,
 
Transport luggage-passengers.
From airports to SJPP
Luggage from SJPP to Roncevalles
Being a much larger creature, the pilgie is not affected. 😉
That is part of the story. The other is that, once dry, permethrin bonds well to fabric and there is little transmission into dry skin. My preference is to treat my sleeping bag liner, which can then be used even in places where blankets are provided without having to unpack my sleeping bag, or when it is sufficiently warm not to want to use a sleeping bag, other than perhaps as a quilt. I also wear untreated underpants or shorts that protect certain moist areas from coming into contact with the treated liner.
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Albergue Tras do Convento in Samos - across from the monastery - has a bedbug issue. I received countless bites as did other pilgrims on October 30, 2022. I made the mistake of sleeping in their sheets and not my treated sleeping bag. Cortisone to the rescue. No fun....
Bed bugs are transient, they move with Pilgrims. Please don't blame any single place. Let them know, wash and dry your clothes and gear. You have to assume you slept on clean sheets provided but the bed bugs could have been in your own pack. Be Kind, Be Helpful!
 
Bed bugs are transient, they move with Pilgrims. Please don't blame any single place. Let them know, wash and dry your clothes and gear.
As @peregrina2000 mentioned above, you don't need to wash your clothes. It's the hot dryer that does the trick.
Washing clothes won’t kill the bugs. You need heat, and it’s actually better to throw the clothes into the dryer directly without washing them first, because they will heat more if they start out dry. 50 degrees C in the dryer for at least 20-30 minutes is what I was taught by a very competent hospitalera.
 
That is part of the story. The other is that, once dry, permethrin bonds well to fabric and there is little transmission into dry skin. My preference is to treat my sleeping bag liner, which can then be used even in places where blankets are provided without having to unpack my sleeping bag, or when it is sufficiently warm not to want to use a sleeping bag, other than perhaps as a quilt. I also wear untreated underpants or shorts that protect certain moist areas from coming into contact with the treated liner.
Ye gods! Is nothing sacred ?
Samarkand
 
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I checked the bed, mattress, pillow etc. And found nothing. It's just a reminder to be EXTRA careful!
In spite of their name, bedbugs don't necessarily live in the bedding. They tend to inhabit the nooks and crannies of the adjacent building and only come into the bed when it has a nice, warm body in it. Heat kills them - a max heat tumble dryer or failing that, a black plastic bag left out in the sun for the day. They are transmitted by people so if one albergue has them, the chances are that other albergues up and down the line have them too.
 
That is part of the story. The other is that, once dry, permethrin bonds well to fabric and there is little transmission into dry skin. My preference is to treat my sleeping bag liner, which can then be used even in places where blankets are provided without having to unpack my sleeping bag, or when it is sufficiently warm not to want to use a sleeping bag, other than perhaps as a quilt. I also wear untreated underpants or shorts that protect certain moist areas from coming into contact with the treated liner.
Permethrin doesn't come in small quantities. We usually have enough for two bag liners, two light sleeping bags with enough left over to slosh around the inside and outside of our backpacks.
 
Albergue Tras do Convento in Samos - across from the monastery - has a bedbug issue. I received countless bites as did other pilgrims on October 30, 2022. I made the mistake of sleeping in their sheets and not my treated sleeping bag. Cortisone to the rescue. No fun....
Thank you for the heads up, Andrea. It's always good to know, and we are grateful that you let us know.
 
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Permethrin doesn't come in small quantities. We usually have enough for two bag liners, two light sleeping bags with enough left over to slosh around the inside and outside of our backpacks.
I use Tea Tree oil instead. It seems to work for me, at least it has so far. Of course, I've probably just been lucky.
 
I use Tea Tree oil instead. It seems to work for me, at least it has so far. Of course, I've probably just been lucky.
I use it too, perhaps not as effective as permethrin, but more friendly to the environment and smells fresh. I spray my pack and sleeping bag a couple of times before I travel.
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
Washing clothes won’t kill the bugs. You need heat, and it’s actually better to throw the clothes into the dryer directly without washing them first, because they will heat more if they start out dry. 50 degrees C in the dryer for at least 20-30 minutes is what I was taught by a very competent hospitalera.
Don't the clothes shrink, though???
 
Don't the clothes shrink, though???
Depends on the material. Merino will probably shrink so the alternatives are: is the black plastic bag in the sun, wrap them in plastic until you get home then leave them in the freezer for a few weeks, or tumble dry at 45 C for much longer. Other materials should be fine.
 
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€83,-
Depends on the material. Merino will probably shrink

My good quality merino items have not shrunk after numerous hot washings and dryings.
Same for me. I have dried merino clothing, silk sleep sack and down blanket on high heat with no problem. The only thing that didn't survive was a sun hat, which I think was made out of nylon.
 
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Don't the clothes shrink, though???
Depends on the material. Merino will probably shrink so the alternatives are: is the black plastic bag in the sun, wrap them in plastic until you get home then leave them in the freezer for a few weeks, or tumble dry at 45 C for much longer. Other materials should be fine.
I have never had any of my merino shrink when put into the dryer dry. Even on the hottest heat. Wool does shrink (it can actually felt) if put into the dryer wet. So just put it into the dryer first, to kill all the bedbugs and their eggs. If you want to wash it after that, do it in the normal way.
 
I use Tea Tree oil instead. It seems to work for me, at least it has so far. Of course, I've probably just been lucky.

I use it too, perhaps not as effective as permethrin, but more friendly to the environment and smells fresh. I spray my pack and sleeping bag a couple of times before I travel.
Essential oils have been shown to be ineffective as insecticides. Using them instead of permethrin is pointless. Unless you are concerned that the bed bugs smell nice while they are feasting on you they are not doing anything to protect you or others from bed bugs.
 
My good quality merino items have not shrunk after numerous hot washings and dryings.
I have never had any of my merino shrink when put into the dryer dry. Even on the hottest heat. Wool does shrink (it can actually felt) if put into the dryer wet. So just put it into the dryer first, to kill all the bedbugs and their eggs. If you want to wash it after that, do it in the normal way.
I didn't know that. Explains a lot. Apparently, at 45 C it takes at least 90 minutes to kill bedbugs. At 47 C it takes 20 - 30 minutes. However it takes at least 90 minutes at 47+ to kill the eggs. You may find it difficult to get access to a tumble dryer on some caminos in which case the black plastic bag should do the trick, assuming it is sunny and warm. Freezing at below zero C requires three days to dispatch the little blighters, and that is definitely not going to be easy when you are halfway along the Meseta. Buen camino, folks.
 
Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading Abbey to Southampton, 110 kms
Don't the clothes shrink, though???
Sometimes, I ended up with some doll sized socks (not merino) on my second Camino. Now I tend to check my clothing before I go to make sure it can withstand the heat treatment. I normally wash my clothes by hand and air/sun dry whilst on Camino, so I now put my stuff in a dryer beforehand at home to check.
 
I've been lucky in finding commercial dryers when I've needed them to get rid of bedbugs - twice in Leon, one in town and a few years later I needed one as I left Leon and found one on the outskirts attached to a hypermarket (E Leclerc). I also needed one and found it in Mealhada on the Portugues, and another time I needed and found one in Ourense on the Via de la Plata.

I just had a look on Google maps and see there are self-service laundries (with large commercial dryers) in all the larger towns along the Camino Frances - Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Astorga. Ponferrada, and Santiago. There may be others in smaller places - for example, looking at the meseta I zoomed in on google maps and found one (to my surprise) in Sahagún. I suppose it stands to reason that the locals will need a lavendería automática from time to time.

I also endorse the black plastic bag method, but in my case I've not needed it.
 
Essential oils have been shown to be ineffective as insecticides.
So it's nothing like as effective as targeted chemical insecticides designed for the job, sure. But not entirely ineffective.

Using them instead of permethrin is pointless. Unless you are concerned that the bed bugs smell nice while they are feasting on you they are not doing anything to protect you or others from bed bugs.
Why would I be concerned that bed bugs smell nice? And are you suggesting that my choosing not to use chemical insecticides would somehow make me responsible for others getting bedbugs?

Getting back to the point, If we find ourselves with bedbug bites or see evidence of bedbugs, we need to report it to the accomodation provider immediately and to heat-treat our own stuff at the earliest opportunity. That is where our responsibility starts and ends.
 
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So it's nothing like as effective as targeted chemical insecticides designed for the job, sure. But not entirely ineffective.
I just wonder about statements like this. Tea tree oil is a highly toxic chemical compound. To give some indication of its utility as a pesticide to manage bed bugs, I searched the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website and the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. There were:
  • eight registrations where tea tree oil is one of the active ingredients for use as an insecticide or fungicide. None of these registrations is for the use of the product to treat bed-bugs. Three of the registrations were for insect repellents with tea tree oil as the active ingredient. Bed bugs were not included in the list of pests they claimed to repel.
  • there were 164 registrations for products to treat beg bugs. None show tea tree oil as an active ingredient
  • there are 26 tea tree oil medicine registrations. I checked two of the data sheets, and neither mentioned bed bugs in the sections on permitted indications.
I reviewed a small number of sites where there were claims made about the effectiveness of tea tree oil. There were many assertions about how wonderful the product is, but most phrased to say 'it might work ...'. None referred to any scientific testing that justified these claims.

I also checked the entry on tea tree oil on the US Department of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website, which notes the state of research into this product for medical use. Bed bugs don't get mentioned.

My conclusion remains that tea tree oil is ineffective as both an insecticide and repellent for bed bugs.
 
Thank you for your findings, and I do hope all that effort leaves you feeling suitably vindicated.

But I'll continue to use it as before. It's become part of my prep ritual everytime I go walking. As has doing a quick check of mattress seams etc, before I take a bed..
 
Thank you for your findings, and I do hope all that effort leaves you feeling suitably vindicated.

But I'll continue to use it as before. It's become part of my prep ritual everytime I go walking. As has doing a quick check of mattress seams etc, before I take a bed..
Feeling vindicated is hardly the point. I presume that members who contribute here do so with the intent that others get good quality advice on the various topics we discuss. Where something is clearly wide of that mark, I think it is unfair on the rest of the forum community if it isn't challenged. Sometimes this might be the presentation of alternative perspectives. In others, the facts clearly don't support the suggestions made during a discussion. That needs to be challenged if we are not to mislead other forum members.

For those that would rather use a 'natural' product, there are bed bug pesticides which use extracts from the pyrethrum plant rather than permethrin. The active compounds are closely related, but one is plant sourced. Some people will feel more comfortable with that than using a 'manufactured' compound.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I have never needed a hot dryer for treatment of bedbugs, but once we used an albergue's dryer that was so very hot (unbeknownst to us) that it shrunk my fleece's zipper into a "snake" shape, thus ruining it, and it shunk my son's hiking pants to ride above his ankles...you must be very careful imo.
 

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