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bedbugs: a rocky road

bendywendy

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis ( April 2013)
Camino del Norte (Sept 2014)
My husband and I travelled from Australia to Spain middle of September this year (2014). It was to be six weeks of glorious walking from Irun to Santiago on the Norte route. I knew about bedbugs but we hadn't come across them last March-April when we walked the Camino Francis, so wasn't expecting to become one of the 'chosen' when we came back to walk the coast.

First two weeks were great, dealing with the steep ups and downs and despite a few knee issues, getting into our stride. Then, one morning, after a stay in a pension in Guernica, a couple of small raised lumps on my neck. 'Whats that?' I thought, not suspecting. Shortly after my husband pointed to further line of small lumps developing on my face. By mid-afternoon, they were blistering, red, itchy and inflamed. 'Ahhh,' I realised that I had been bitten by dreaded bedbugs. What followed were two night nights of excruciating itch, practicing unnatural restraint in not going at my skin with nails and ripping the blisters open. My reaction to the bites is clearly of the more severe variety. However, in the morning I realise that despite the itch and lack of sleep I can still walk. Perhaps it's good, I philosophise, a lesson facing fears in order to overcome them.

Next day, we walked into Bilbou checking into the big Youth Hostel on the hill where we could access hot washer and dryers, and I could regain my composure. I was wondering how people would react when they saw my clearly swollen and wounded face. However, on explaining my experience to fellow pilgrims, I noted the fear flash across their faces, then sympathy and concern; we were, after all, kind of in this together.

Several more days and no problems then... some more bites. My goodness, this is not fair! Is it that my gear not sufficiently de-infested, or was it bunk I just slept in? I can never know. We enter another small coastal town and begin another round of washing. But this time the Albergue manager doesn't speak English and my Spanish is pathetic, so I mime that I need to do a big load of washing and drying, I also mime it needs to be 'hot'. He return mimes 'no worries, can do'. He takes our big bag of washing, washes it and hangs it all on the line as the sun is sinking over the horizon. It’s clearly not the hot drier treatment I desperately wanted. There is nothing more that can be done on this night. We wash, rest and walk on the next day.

A good run for a couple more days. Then a couple of new bites appear on my fingers (they are strange, lumpy and hard and making my palms itch and swelling the joints). Followed by a couple bites more next day. A Farmacia recommends a poison sold for treating nits containing Malathion plus Permethrin – ‘Para PLUS’. We add the poison to process: everything in a garbage bag and give them a blast. Leave for couple of hours for poison to infiltrate. Hope this is the killer app, the ultimate solution. By now I'm starting to fear the nights. Wondering if the bunk I'm about to lie myself down on will provide rest, or make me an insect's dinner.

It happened once more. By the time we got to Comillas I had had a more bad attack: blisters, welts and itch like nothing else. This time add dry cleaning of backpacks and sleeping bags to the arsenal. It takes two days to complete process. It’s the third de-infestation in ten days. I'm confident we are clear again, but am concerned that it won’t be long before we encounter them again and the hard work will be undone. Note: my husband had a couple of bites only, like mosquito bites, didn't worry him at all. We learn that the Albergue in Comillas is closed for de-infestation and we hear that the one in the next town is too. It's clearly a big issue.

We discuss the problem with group of fellow pilgrims over a beer in the plaza, most of them say they have not encountered bedbugs, then someone rolls up their sleeves to reveal a couple of what they think might be 'mosquito' bites. I inspect and suspect they have also encountered bedbugs, especially when in cluster - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overall, it seems that only some people (like me) will be affected badly. Most will go untouched or, if bitten, it’s a minor irritation. Its clear that many complete their Camino without a bedbug issue.

As for me, the situation had become untenable. I could not face another infestation and felt sure that one could not be avoided. My husband and decided that it would be best to go home. I was disappointed to leave half way through our planned camino (better than none at all!), but relieved to be leave the bedbug situation behind me. At the same time, I have many good memories of the people, places and times experienced. And am reminded that things don't always turn out the way we plan.
 
Last edited:
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Olivares

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
Very sad to read your post and experience. I do not blame you for stepping out as you have given this situtation a really good fight. I hope you still got some manner of enjoyment of the road already travelled. How unfortunate about your particular heightened reaction to these bedbugs. Did you considered as an option private lodging in lesser crowded towns? I am well aware that even private lodging could have the issue, but by now it is a matter of managing the risk.

I was bitten by the Tiger Mosquito at San Martin del Camino and by the time I made it to Molinaseca it was unbearable. I was sure it was bedbugs until a kind pharmacist in Molinaseca showed me literature to demonstrate the difference. She must have been right because my bites were treated as mosquito bites and cured within 2-3 days.

Have a safe trip home and get well soon!
 

isabelle304

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (SJPP-Santiago) (Oct-Nov 08)
Santiago to Finisterre (Nov 08)
Via de la Plata/Camino Sanabres (Sevilla-Santiago via Ourense) (Oct-Nov 09)
Camino Primitivo (Oviedo-Santiago) (Sep-Oct 14)
I was bitten by the Tiger Mosquito at San Martin del Camino and by the time I made it to Molinaseca it was unbearable. I was sure it was bedbugs until a kind pharmacist in Molinaseca showed me literature to demonstrate the difference. She must have been right because my bites were treated as mosquito bites and cured within 2-3 days.

This is very interesting. On all 3 of my caminos I have been bitten by things but only on one instance am I sure it was bedbugs. I really wish I could inform myself better so that I can look at a bite and be able to tell straightaway what caused it, so I could get it treated effectively. I was bitten/stung a few days ago (just one bite) by something that caused my ankle to swell up to twice its size and made my last day walking into Santiago quite slow and painful. When I got back to the UK yesterday I slathered the area with Savlon Bites & Stings Gel and the swelling and itching have gone down. Still, I wish I knew what little critter caused that swelling!
 
M

mikevasey

Guest
I was bitten on my hip, 3 bites in a row, desayuno, comida and cena, they were incredibly painful and really swelled up. Bed bugs? No-well possibly one- the first one maybe came at Arres, and the other two I think happened as I was walking around the Yesa reservoir, not bed bugs, but some nasty flying insect which took advantage of my shirt riding up over my hips. Too be safe I washed everthing I could also had a bed bug spray from France with me, sprayed absolutely everything, clothes, backpack, shoes even put a very small amount of the liquid in my shampoo(probably a no-no) and had a shower with it. I have seen two people on my 2nd Camino who were covered from head to toe in bumps and scabs where they had allergic reactions to the bites, so was not taking any chances.

Good luck, hope you walk again and have better luck.

Mike
 

Walli Walker

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances '2009',Portuguese '2015', Ingles '2015', Fin and Muxia '2015'. Camino from Granada '2017'.
So sorry for you, Bendywendy, I too am bed-bug fodder (and Australian). I was totally ripped apart by them on the Frances in 2009 while my husband only had a couple of tiny pin-pricks. I'm now planning for the Camino Portugues for May next year, only hope that it doesn't happen again.
 
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onelight

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September 23, 2014
My husband and I travelled from Australia to Spain middle of September this year (2014). It was to be six weeks of glorious walking from Irun to Santiago on the Norte route. I knew about bedbugs but we hadn't come across them last March-April when we walked the Camino Francis, so wasn't expecting to become one of the 'chosen' when we came back to walk the coast.

First two weeks were great, dealing with the steep ups and downs and despite a few knee issues, getting into our stride. Then, one morning, after a stay in a pension in Guernica, a couple of small raised lumps on my neck. 'Whats that?' I thought, not suspecting. Shortly after my husband pointed to further line of small lumps developing on my face. By mid-afternoon, they were blistering, red, itchy and inflamed. 'Ahhh,' I realised that I had been bitten by dreaded bedbugs. What followed were two night nights of excruciating itch, practicing unnatural restraint in not going at my skin with nails and ripping the blisters open. My reaction to the bites is clearly of the more severe variety. However, in the morning I realise that despite the itch and lack of sleep I can still walk. Perhaps it's good, I philosophise, a lesson facing fears in order to overcome them.

Next day, we walked into Bilbou checking into the big Youth Hostel on the hill where we could access hot washer and dryers, and I could regain my composure. I was wondering how people would react when they saw my clearly swollen and wounded face. However, on explaining my experience to fellow pilgrims, I noted the fear flash across their faces, then sympathy and concern; we were, after all, kind of in this together.

Several more days and no problems then... some more bites. My goodness, this is not fair! Is it that my gear not sufficiently de-infested, or was it bunk I just slept in? I can never know. We enter another small coastal town and begin another round of washing. But this time the Albergue manager doesn't speak English and my Spanish is pathetic, so I mime that I need to do a big load of washing and drying, I also mime it needs to be 'hot'. He return mimes 'no worries, can do'. He takes our big bag of washing, washes it and hangs it all on the line as the sun is sinking over the horizon. It’s clearly not the hot drier treatment I desperately wanted. There is nothing more that can be done on this night. We wash, rest and walk on the next day.

A good run for a couple more days. Then a couple of new bites appear on my fingers (they are strange, lumpy and hard and making my palms itch and swelling the joints). Followed by a couple bites more next day. A Farmacia recommends a poison sold for treating nits containing Malathion plus Permethrin – ‘Para PLUS’. We add the poison to process: everything in a garbage bag and give them a blast. Leave for couple of hours for poison to infiltrate. Hope this is the killer app, the ultimate solution. By now I'm starting to fear the nights. Wondering if the bunk I'm about to lie myself down on will provide rest, or make me an insect's dinner.

It happened once more. By the time we got to Comillas I had had a more bad attack: blisters, welts and itch like nothing else. This time add dry cleaning of backpacks and sleeping bags to the arsenal. It takes two days to complete process. It’s the third de-infestation in ten days. I'm confident we are clear again, but am concerned that it won’t be long before we encounter them again and the hard work will be undone. Note: my husband had a couple of bites only, like mosquito bites, didn't worry him at all. We learn that the Albergue in Comillas is closed for de-infestation and we hear that the one in the next town is too. It's clearly a big issue.

We discuss the problem with group of fellow pilgrims over a beer in the plaza, most of them say they have not encountered bedbugs, then someone rolls up their sleeves to reveal a couple of what they think might be 'mosquito' bites. I inspect and suspect they have also encountered bedbugs, especially when in cluster - breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overall, it seems that only some people (like me) will be affected badly. Most will go untouched or, if bitten, it’s a minor irritation. Its clear that many complete their Camino without a bedbug issue.

As for me, the situation had become untenable. I could not face another infestation and felt sure that one could not be avoided. My husband and decided that it would be best to go home. I was disappointed to leave half way through our planned camino (better than none at all!), but relieved to be leave the bedbug situation behind me. At the same time, I have many good memories of the people, places and times experienced. And am reminded that things don't always turn out the way we plan.

I am on the Camino now and was bitten hundreds of times by something in los arcos. Bubbly intensely itchy blisters and swelling of hands, ankles, head, and neck. A traveling dr. saved my life with antibiotics and steroids.
Turning in bed trying not to let blistered legs touch, i twisted my knee.
Walked for a few days but now cannot stand.
Very sad my Camino is over. Trying to figure what to do next since i cannot even take one step. I am in a small town just below Belorado. I will be driven to a Dr. there in the morning and left off. Then i do not know what. How to step and carry my pack. I decided to do this in not enough time to learn Spanish.

The itching has mostly stopped. Left with scabs and scars. A broken heart.
I keep thinking there is a reason and there is more to this Camino yet to unfold.
Love and healing heartpeace i send to you.
Cindy
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Both of you need to be VERY careful not to take these back to your home!!!
I suggest you spray EVERYTHING with insecticide and wash EVERYTHING in HOT HOT soapy WATER, then put it in a HOT HOT dryer.

Personally, I'd toss it in the garbage and buy new things.
Also, don't forget your shoes, pockets, and hat, where the bugs hide and lay eggs in the seams.
Also your money belt, your fanny pack, any dark place can carry hitchhiking bedbugs.

If you DO take your items home, when you get home, I would NOT take my backpack or any of my gear into the house.
Instead, put it in a black garbage bag in the sun, and if it's cold where you live, spray the hell out of it, and seal it up for a week.
It sounds like you are infested - and if they get in your house, it could be horrible.

Also, please consider the fate of luggage put next to yours on the plane.

And if you think it's too expensive to get rid of all your gear, think of the expense to clear the pest out of your home.

I'm so sorry this happened to you - I've only been bitten twice, but I've seen people eaten alive by these pests, and it's a horrible thing for some.
 

shefollowsshells

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Several alone and with children
I wondered...would vinegar kill these critters. Vinegar just seems to do everything!!!!
I know there is little chance to get heavy duty washers and dryers on the Camino....in those cases could a large trash bag filled with gallons of vinegar and
everything thrown in there over night or even a day do the trick? This would not be toxic. Just wondering...
I know that would be what comes to mind if I was in this situation.
Heck I would even bathe in it if I had to .
 

onelight

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September 23, 2014
Both of you need to be VERY careful not to take these back to your home!!!
I suggest you spray EVERYTHING with insecticide and wash EVERYTHING in HOT HOT soapy WATER, then put it in a HOT HOT dryer.

Personally, I'd toss it in the garbage and buy new things.
Also, don't forget your shoes, pockets, and hat, where the bugs hide and lay eggs in the seams.
Also your money belt, your fanny pack, any dark place can carry hitchhiking bedbugs.

If you DO take your items home, when you get home, I would NOT take my backpack or any of my gear into the house.
Instead, put it in a black garbage bag in the sun, and if it's cold where you live, spray the hell out of it, and seal it up for a week.
It sounds like you are infested - and if they get in your house, it could be horrible.

Also, please consider the fate of luggage put next to yours on the plane.

And if you think it's too expensive to get rid of all your gear, think of the expense to clear the pest out of your home.

I'm so sorry this happened to you - I've only been bitten twice, but I've seen people eaten alive by these pests, and it's a horrible thing for some.

Thank you.
The Dr. I saw assured me they were mosquitos. Nevertheless i washed and dried everything in hot hot water.
My bites happened almost two weeks ago and i have not been bitten again. Anywhere. Is this a good indicator that i and my belongings are free, or should i still be concerned?
 

bendywendy

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis ( April 2013)
Camino del Norte (Sept 2014)
Thank you.
The Dr. I saw assured me they were mosquitos. Nevertheless i washed and dried everything in hot hot water.
My bites happened almost two weeks ago and i have not been bitten again. Anywhere. Is this a good indicator that i and my belongings are free, or should i still be concerned?

Hi Cindy, good to hear your news.
Receiving Doctor's opinion that you have been bitten by mosquitoes would be very reassuring.
The fact that you have not been bitten again is also a good indicator.
I hope that everything goes well,
Wendy
 
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onelight

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
September 23, 2014
Hi Cindy, good to hear your news.
Receiving Doctor's opinion that you have been bitten by mosquitoes would be very reassuring.
The fact that you have not been bitten again is also a good indicator.
I hope that everything goes well,
Wendy

What concerns me is that i didnt see or feel any mosquitos. The next morning as i walked there were many remarks about there being a lot in the air that morning. But i still did not see or feel any and i had hundreds of bites.
Not sure ill ever know for sure.
Will soon see a Dr. in Belorado for my sprained leg. Then i do not know what will come next. Im thinking of trying to get myself to the sea. The Little Fox House. Not sure how with barely being able to stand. But if its meant to be. It will be.
New Camino every day.
Thank you Wendy
 

CISSA69

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I have walked the Camino de Santiago many many times, volunteered as a hospitalaro and at the CSJ offices in London and have presented on "Camino and Equipment" .
I am on the Camino now and was bitten hundreds of times by something in los arcos. Bubbly intensely itchy blisters and swelling of hands, ankles, head, and neck. A traveling dr. saved my life with antibiotics and steroids.
Turning in bed trying not to let blistered legs touch, i twisted my knee.
Walked for a few days but now cannot stand.
Very sad my Camino is over. Trying to figure what to do next since i cannot even take one step. I am in a small town just below Belorado. I will be driven to a Dr. there in the morning and left off. Then i do not know what. How to step and carry my pack. I decided to do this in not enough time to learn Spanish.

The itching has mostly stopped. Left with scabs and scars. A broken heart.
I keep thinking there is a reason and there is more to this Camino yet to unfold.
Love and healing heartpeace i send to you.
Cindy

Rest sounds like the best Camino option. You could volunteer at your albergur in return for free accommodation, help sign pilgrims in .... or buy a donkey, selling at €700.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
The Dr. I saw assured me they were mosquitos.
I am skeptical of his opinion. Mosquito bites would be limited to exposed skin, say head, arms, and hands. You can almost always see them, and usually you can feel them biting. Bed bugs get you when you are sleeping, and will attack feet, legs, shoulders, arms, and head. I would guess that they are bed bug bites, but I am not there and I cannot see them as the doctor did! Regardless, good luck recuperating quickly.:)
 

Coijane

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
St Jean - Logrono (2013)
Logrono - Burgos (2014)
Burgos - Carrion de los Condes (2014)
Just returned from a week on the Camino during which time I stayed at La Mochila in Itero de la Vega. I was the only occupant of a 3 bed room and was a bit concerned as there were a lot of soft furnishings suitable as hiding places for bugs. I sprayed my hands and face with insect repellant containing DEET before I went to sleep. In the morning I woke up and when I put on the light I saw a bed bug crawling up the wall. I killed it and blood (mine) came out, I squished another too. I thought I had got away with a couple of small bites on my neck and assumed it was an area I had missed when spraying but 24 hours later the bites started to come out. It appears they can take up to 14 days to appear which accounts for how these things can travel because people don't know that they have been in an infested albergue.

The bites were on my hands and arms (so much for the DEET) one on my leg and a couple on my neck. They were raised and almost blistery but not terribly itchy (mosquitoe bites are very itchy) these felt more tender and more like a slight burn. I had antihistamine tablets with me which did help a bit and I bought some antihistamine cream in a pharmacy which took down the swelling.

The following night I stayed in a small hotel with private bathroom, I took my backpack into the bathroom on arrival and carefully unpacked and inspected everything in there and the whole of the backpack. I had everything washed and then inspected the clothes again before putting them back in. As far as I am aware I haven't carried any hitchhikers with me but to be on the safe side my backpack is going to stay outside my house and I am hoping for a really cold winter.

I did tell the hostalero and he did say he would get the hostal fumigated, will he? I don't know, but I wish I had put it in the Libro de Reclamaciones as then the authorities would have required evidence that action had been taken.

By the way I had also sprayed the outside of my backpack with Permethrine before setting off so that may have protected the backpack. I believe that they didn't get inside my sleeping bag liner and that the bite on my leg was from an afternoon nap on top of the bed.
 
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s. brown

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy 2015
What concerns me is that i didnt see or feel any mosquitos. The next morning as i walked there were many remarks about there being a lot in the air that morning. But i still did not see or feel any and i had hundreds of bites.
Not sure ill ever know for sure.
Will soon see a Dr. in Belorado for my sprained leg. Then i do not know what will come next. Im thinking of trying to get myself to the sea. The Little Fox House. Not sure how with barely being able to stand. But if its meant to be. It will be.
New Camino every day.
Thank you Wendy
Hundreds of bites??? I, too, am skeptical that yours are mosquito bites. Sorry to hear this. Please keep us posted on your leg problem.
 
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tominrm

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
I am planning the next camino on Del Norte next April and all of sudden I am scared. I was mindful of the problem last April when I was on CF but luckily saw no sign of this to anyone. Is Del Norte different?
 

Coijane

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
St Jean - Logrono (2013)
Logrono - Burgos (2014)
Burgos - Carrion de los Condes (2014)
I am planning the next camino on Del Norte next April and all of sudden I am scared. I was mindful of the problem last April when I was on CF but luckily saw no sign of this to anyone. Is Del Norte different?
Don't let it put you off. I love that Coast and you will find it stunning. The bites are annoying but not life-threatening and so long as you take some antihistamine tablets and cream if you do get bitten that should sort you out. Spray the inside and outside of your backpack with permethrine or similar before you go and keep your clothes etc in sealed bags to limit hitchhikers.
 

greggfr

Veteran member since 2012
Year of past OR future Camino
2012 Aulnay de saintonge to Leon.
2013 Leon to Santiago - Plan to walk 2020
I had the same problem with bugs, went to see a doctor due to my cracked rib, the doctor had a large stock of anti hystemine and cortizone (spelling)
She explained that it was a massive problem with bugs for the last 200km.
Some kind voulenteers at a templar monestry sorted me out "i passed the protocol"
Had no problems after that, but was very careful with my stuff.
 
M

mikevasey

Guest
Early in the year seems to be better than later on for avoiding bed bugs, it could be that pilgrims bringing them in from other routes set of walking from various places in April and arrive on the Norte in late April. The albergues themselves hopefully have been making sure they are free from infestation in the off season or when they are closed or if they haven't then temperatures are low enough that the critters remain dormant. The summer months and Autumn seem to get more claims of bed bugs. They give me the shivers, I have seen live and dead ones and their effects but I would not let them put me off from walking. There is two prominent members on this forum who post a wealth of useful info on how to combat or deter them, search the forum and it should help you have a bug free trip. If I was bitten at Arres it was because I decided to sleep on top of my treated liner and had become complacent with spraying my backpack every 5 days.

Buen Camino
 

Felice

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
I wondered...would vinegar kill these critters. Vinegar just seems to do everything!!!!
I know there is little chance to get heavy duty washers and dryers on the Camino....in those cases could a large trash bag filled with gallons of vinegar and
everything thrown in there over night or even a day do the trick? This would not be toxic. Just wondering...
I know that would be what comes to mind if I was in this situation.
Heck I would even bathe in it if I had to .

Well, if anyone gets the **** critters around Ponferrada, then there is a really good lavanderia on the Av Pueblo, which is the road after the bridge. Carry straight on for 100m when the Camino turns right. Shop is open 8.30 to late at night, all week. The owner is really helpful when he is there. There are big washers and huge dryers that can be set to 85 degrees. Costs 4 euros for 37 minutes. That place saved my sanity when I was bitten.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I've asked this question before and never gotten an answer, so I'll try again. When I was bitten by bedbugs on the Vdlp in the Zafra albergue, my walking companion, a former member of the Spanish military (hence someone with a lot of experience with bedbugs) took over. I wound up spending the day in a bathrobe on the terrace patio of the lovely Casa Perín in Villafranca de los Barros, while he sprayed and washed and inspected. What he told me was that washing with bleach would kill the bugs. Is that true? I know I didn´t get any more bites, but I of course have no way of knowing whether the bleach was what did the trick.

I have never taken any of these preventive measures, but next year I may just have to. Buen camino, Laurie
 

shefollowsshells

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Several alone and with children
Bleach would without a doubt kill them...it is what we use in my Emergency Room after we have a patient who comes thru with them.
I just don't know how one would successfully bleach everything without damaging most of the Camino gear...rain gear I think would be ruined (not even thinking about the cosmetics of it all).
I wonder what he used on your stuff to prevent that...do you know?

I have to say if I experienced bedbugs my gut instinct is vinegar...I assume they sell it in large containers like here...
I would get a heavy duty trash bag (or trash can) ,throw vinegar in there and put everything I have in there... overnight if not longer.
I always say Water, Aspirin and Vinegar can fix just about anything and they are so inexpensive :)

I would only hope that if in the situation I too was on a terrace patio in a bathrobe!
Love your story :)...making the best of the situation that is for certain!
 

Bozzie

Continuing to walk my camino daily. Blessings!
Year of past OR future Camino
2012/2016
Both of you need to be VERY careful not to take these back to your home!!!
I suggest you spray EVERYTHING with insecticide and wash EVERYTHING in HOT HOT soapy WATER, then put it in a HOT HOT dryer.

Also, please consider the fate of luggage put next to yours on the plane.

And if you think it's too expensive to get rid of all your gear, think of the expense to clear the pest out of your home.

I'm so sorry this happened to you - I've only been bitten twice, but I've seen people eaten alive by these pests, and it's a horrible thing for some.

I totally agree, Annie. I'd like to know if any of the people who posted about getting bedbugs pretreated with permethrin prior to their trips. If any of them took the 2-3 minutes to check the bed, underframe, walls around bed for bed bug black residue/blood. Did they use the blankets? I am amazed that people don't take better precautions EACH time they stop for the night. Also, it's not shameful to get them, but it is shameful to spread them to other albergues and fellow pilgrims.
On another note, it cost on couple $10,000 dollars to get rid of the bb's once they got home. Homeopathics like lavender do not work, folks! Unfortunately. You might as well spray water on the bed bugs if you think lavender will keep you and your things safe...especially after the mid-Summer through the Fall.
 

s. brown

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy 2015
I totally agree, Annie. I'd like to know if any of the people who posted about getting bedbugs pretreated with permethrin prior to their trips. If any of them took the 2-3 minutes to check the bed, underframe, walls around bed for bed bug black residue/blood. Did they use the blankets? I am amazed that people don't take better precautions EACH time they stop for the night. Also, it's not shameful to get them, but it is shameful to spread them to other albergues and fellow pilgrims.
On another note, it cost on couple $10,000 dollars to get rid of the bb's once they got home. Homeopathics like lavender do not work, folks! Unfortunately. You might as well spray water on the bed bugs if you think lavender will keep you and your things safe...especially after the mid-Summer through the Fall.
I, too, have heard the $10,000. figure for treating bedbugs. It sounds bad to be bitten by a bedbug, but it sounds REALLY frightening to have to rid one's home of these pests. And to make matters worse, the chemical used by professionals is highly lethal to cats. So, if you're a cat owner you've got additional troubles.
 
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mikevasey

Guest
Peremethin is highly toxic to cats, if you are thinking of going the holistic path, then the alternative Tea Tree Oil is just as toxic to them as well. The treatment of any items that I take with me has to happen away from my home, when I come back I try to keep the backpack and items somewhere where my cat won't run into them.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Bleach would without a doubt kill them...it is what we use in my Emergency Room after we have a patient who comes thru with them.
I just don't know how one would successfully bleach everything without damaging most of the Camino gear...rain gear I think would be ruined (not even thinking about the cosmetics of it all).
I wonder what he used on your stuff to prevent that...do you know?

I have to say if I experienced bedbugs my gut instinct is vinegar...I assume they sell it in large containers like here...
I would get a heavy duty trash bag (or trash can) ,throw vinegar in there and put everything I have in there... overnight if not longer.
I always say Water, Aspirin and Vinegar can fix just about anything and they are so inexpensive :)

I would only hope that if in the situation I too was on a terrace patio in a bathrobe!
Love your story :)...making the best of the situation that is for certain!

Hi, shefollowsshells,
I believe he sprayed my pack, my rain poncho, and my sleeping bag (not sure with what, but I would have to guess it was permethrin), and then every piece of clothing went in the washing machine with bleach. It didn't do anything to the colors, not that I would have minded. Maybe these fake/synthetic fabrics don't lose their color when bleached, since all my clothes are high-tech-wicking this or that. All other items were carefully inspected (journal, eyeglasses, change purse, etc). By night time I was good to go, and was able to enjoy watching the wedding ceremony taking place in the church across the street from the hostal. Brings back nice memories of Villafranca de los Barros!
 

Dutch

Straightforward
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC sept '13
Porto-SdC May '14
SdC-Finis/Muxia May '14
SJPP-Finisterre sept '14
Pamplona-Burgos march '15
Porto - Sdc may '15
Camino salkantay june '15
SJPP - SdC aug/sept '15

Pacific Crest Trail april thru sept 2016
Bed bugs...brrr.

Just a few days back from camino number three and this time i have seen more pilgrims get bitten by bedbugs then the other two combined. Why, what and how....no idea, but the further we moved towards Santiago, the worst it would get.
A lot of people i knew got bitten. Also standing at the pilgrim office on a very sunny day i saw many other pilgrims (i did not know) standing in line in their shorts and sleeveless shirts with the ooh sooo clear bedbug bites. And i am not talki g about 1 or 2 people....

One thing i did notice, but maybe its just me, but at least 7 out of 10 that i talked to, got bitten when albergue beds were full and they got offered a matras in the albergue instead of a bed. This told me that i will never except a matras anywhere. I would rather walk on or search for another albergue then get on a matras pulled out of the albergue "basement".

Lucky for me i did not get bitten. Why not? No idea.
Maybe it was because i sprayed all my stuff (liner, sleepingbag, backpack) with permethrin. I find it hard to believe, because permethrin is not a repellent, but hey....i did not get bitten on 3 camino's, so i'll stick to this method.
Most i spoke to had no idea of the how, what or why's of treating their stuff.
 

Luminaria

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances Sept (2015)
Bed bugs...brrr.
Most i spoke to had no idea of the how, what or why's of treating their stuff.

Well, that's a relief, actually. This has been the scariest BB thread I've found here so far. There's so much good information here--I'm counting on it to carry me through on my fall Camino next year.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
This has been the scariest BB thread I've found here so far.
It shouldn't be! Use universal protection techniques. You can bring bed bugs home even if you have not been bitten or seen a bed bug. My backpack goes inside a nylon sack to protect straps and buckles, which also serves as some protection for the airplane. It goes into a large garbage bag in the trunk of my car. The plastic bag is unloaded into my garage, where I spray the inside with permethrin, and let it sit for a day. Then I unpack and wash clothes, and leave the rest in the plastic bag for another day or two with another dose of permethrin. I then clean the remainder of the equipment, and store it in my shed where there is no food for a bed bug even if one should hatch. Bed bug eggs can live for quite a while. Bed bugs themselves only need to eat every few months. I treat my equipment as if it were contaminated for six months.

I have never been bitten in a dozen caminos, but I have seen bed bugs in albergues, hostales, and hoteles. They are everywhere, and you need to act like it. Even a clean place without any signs of bed bugs can have had them imported the previous night, ready to come after you. I am in the camp that says you should not be deterred by bed bugs. I also am in the camp that says, "don't bring them home."
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
It shouldn't be! Use universal protection techniques. You can bring bed bugs home even if you have not been bitten or seen a bed bug. My backpack goes inside a nylon sack to protect straps and buckles, which also serves as some protection for the airplane. It goes into a large garbage bag in the trunk of my car. The plastic bag is unloaded into my garage, where I spray the inside with permethrin, and let it sit for a day. Then I unpack and wash clothes, and leave the rest in the plastic bag for another day or two with another dose of permethrin. I then clean the remainder of the equipment, and store it in my shed where there is no food for a bed bug even if one should hatch. Bed bug eggs can live for quite a while. Bed bugs themselves only need to eat every few months. I treat my equipment as if it were contaminated for six months.

Falcon is giving you excellent advice.
This is exactly what I do when I return.
My pack goes into the chicken shed instead of the garage, but it does NOT come into the house for a month or so after it has been retreated. And EVERYTHING inside the bag gets fumigated before it is washed and put away.

My brother lives in Santa Maria, California and his apartment has been infested with bedbugs because someone else brought them in.
He has never left the country. The manager has spent thousands of dollars having the place treated and they always come back.

So don't think just because you're home, you're safe.

Like Falcon says, there is no reason to be afraid - just use the appropriate methods to protect yourself and you'll be fine.
Also, read my blog on bedbugs and know what to look for.
http://caminosantiago2.blogspot.com/2011/06/dont-let-bedbugs-bite.html

And although I balked at this advice for years, and although I'm chemically sensitive, I've seen enough horribly bitten people who tried lavender and tea-tree oil to agree with the previous person who said not to trust those methods. That is a fairy tale that will have a sad ending. Those who have used those oils and did NOT get bitten simply won the luck of the draw, imo.

I now treat the outside of my backpack AND the outside of my sleeping bag with permethrin.
Actually, I have a friend do it, and get the items back when they're dry.
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
The University of Sydney Department of Entermology has a great bedbug page, with links to treatment standards and various scientific articles. From my reading it seems heat works best to kill both bedbugs and their eggs. Freezing will also kill bedbugs but takes longer.

They are difficult to eradicate. One study looked at steam treatments. It worked in that the jet of stream kills the bedbugs it hits. Problem is some bedbugs and nymphs get displaced by the air currents caused by the process, and scatter around the room. This can also happen with chemical treatments. It just needs a single nymph to escape and the room can be re-infested. Whole room heat treatments have been tried successfully - sealing the room with a heater going continuously. The bedbug body temperature has to be over 45 degrees Celsius before it dies, so you have to get the room really hot and keep it that way until every little nook and cranny is hot. Kills the bedbugs but has also burnt down a few rooms.....
 
Last edited:

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Love the spider story @MendiWalker

From the land of the world's ten deadliest snakes, the blue ringed octopus, funnel web spiders, salt water crocodiles, the great white shark, irukandji, the stinging stonefish (the pain alone is sufficient to cause death by heart attack), box jellyfish, etc etc - I'm not going to let a few bedbugs deter me.

Perception is often out of proportion to reality. In spite of the fearsome reputation of our wildlife, the most deadly creature in Australia in terms of the number of deaths is actually the European honey bee. Bedbugs are a nuisance, but for most people they are hardly the end of the world. Unless, like those unfortunates who have fallen victim to honey bees, you are allergic.
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I would like to add the blister beetle from Africa to the list of things I hope never immigrate to Europe.
I've seen and heard of lots of people who have been bitten but never myself on 4 Caminos.
Is the consumption of a large quantity of vino tinto a possible prophylactic?
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@biarritzdon undoubtedly. There is the example of one party-goer who fell into the Parramatta river (upper reaches of Sydney Harbour) and was so drunk he didn't realise til he was hauled out by his mates that he'd been bitten by a shark.
 

GunnarW

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2011), Del Salvador (2013), every year a part starting from the border of NL/B close to Antwerpen
I've asked this question before and never gotten an answer, so I'll try again. ...What he told me was that washing with bleach would kill the bugs. Is that true?

Hello Laurie,

I'm almost sure bleach will kill bugs. Let me explain my experiences.
At home, I have some chickens and every summer, they are attacked by red chicken mites (Dermanyssus gallinae, check Wikipedia for example). Those mites have the same behaviour as bed bugs. Before I bought some expensive foam to kill the mites. Since a few years, I tried to neutralize them with with concentrated bleach which is sodium hypochlorite (NaClO). I remembered from the chemistry that ants and other insects are full of acid. The opposite of acid is base or alkaline like soap, ammonia,.... Always use the opposite to neutralize.
And it works. The day after, all the mites are dried out. Well not the last one, as they will come back next year.
Off course sodium hypochlorite will attack clothes and also materials like iron. And it smells! I need to wash my hands with the opposite, for example vinegar.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Bleach would without a doubt kill them...it is what we use in my Emergency Room after we have a patient who comes thru with them.
I just don't know how one would successfully bleach everything without damaging most of the Camino gear...rain gear I think would be ruined (not even thinking about the cosmetics of it all).
I wonder what he used on your stuff to prevent that...do you know?

I have to say if I experienced bedbugs my gut instinct is vinegar...I assume they sell it in large containers like here...
I would get a heavy duty trash bag (or trash can) ,throw vinegar in there and put everything I have in there... overnight if not longer.
I always say Water, Aspirin and Vinegar can fix just about anything and they are so inexpensive :)

I would only hope that if in the situation I too was on a terrace patio in a bathrobe!
Love your story :)...making the best of the situation that is for certain!
Hello Laurie,

I'm almost sure bleach will kill bugs. Let me explain my experiences.
At home, I have some chickens and every summer, they are attacked by red chicken mites (Dermanyssus gallinae, check Wikipedia for example). Those mites have the same behaviour as bed bugs. Before I bought some expensive foam to kill the mites. Since a few years, I tried to neutralize them with with concentrated bleach which is sodium hypochlorite (NaClO). I remembered from the chemistry that ants and other insects are full of acid. The opposite of acid is base or alkaline like soap, ammonia,.... Always use the opposite to neutralize.
And it works. The day after, all the mites are dried out. Well not the last one, as they will come back next year.
Off course sodium hypochlorite will attack clothes and also materials like iron. And it smells! I need to wash my hands with the opposite, for example vinegar.

So, if bleach kills them, why isn´t washing everything in bleach to make sure they´re gone the standard operating procedure? I didn´t have any damage, shefollowsshells, I am guessing that these high tech fabrics don´t bleed their colors, but I´m not sure.

Thanks, guys, buen camino, Laurie
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
I suspect that full strength bleach is needed to kill bed bugs, but no on says for sure. A swimming pool has a fair amount of bleach in it, but no one has ever suggested that jumping into a swimming pool fully equipped would successfully deal with a bed bug infestation!

Bleach Kills Them – But So Does Heat…

You might be aware that bed bugs thrive in warm environments with rich levels of carbon dioxide (coincidentally what your body gives off). Hence bed bugs love to make themselves comfortable in…well…just about whatever it is that you are making yourself comfortable in, i.e. clothes, shoes, bedding and of course, beds.

However, bed bugs are relatively dainty vermin. They can’t handle the heat. Research indicates that the magic number appears to be 113°F—but it needs to be sustained for a prolonged period of time. Experiments conducted at Virginia Tech University have confirmed that a loosely filled dryer set on “high” is capable of killing all bed bug life-stages and their eggs in 30 minutes. So be sure to launder your items on high heat in the dryer for at least 30 minutes to get the job done…that’s one episode with Pat Sejak and his Wheel of Fortune.

Furthermore, a dryer with a removable shelf is excellent for killing bugs on items that cannot be tumbled , like leather shoes, handbags, knick knacks, even books. For further laundering advice, the University of Minnesota offers basic advice on washing items to remove bed bugs. This laundering advice centers around three basic steps 1. Sorting and Handling your infested items properly, 2. Washing and Drying your clothes properly and 3. Storing your cleaned clothes properly.
 

shefollowsshells

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Several alone and with children
So, if bleach kills them, why isn´t washing everything in bleach to make sure they´re gone the standard operating procedure? I didn´t have any damage, shefollowsshells, I am guessing that these high tech fabrics don´t bleed their colors, but I´m not sure.

Thanks, guys, buen camino, Laurie
Hey Laurie,
Just now seeing this sorry. I would think that bleach would damage the fabric, in addition to the cosmetic damage I would think it would damage the threads. However I will be honest that is just my thoughts and typically I think I know something and can be totally off base. Everything but my Macabi this last trip was wool and I would have just assumed that the bleach would ruin that.
With that said if I saw the little buggers I think I would have done anything to be convinced they were killed. I have had more scrubs ruined from bleach at the hospital but assume our bleach is far from diluted.
I really would love to know if vinegar would kill these guys, my strong gut instinct is that it would, BUT not suggesting anyone trust that instinct :)
 

GunnarW

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2011), Del Salvador (2013), every year a part starting from the border of NL/B close to Antwerpen
The high concentrated NaClO they sell in specialized shops is what I use. If you put something like 0,5l - 1 l in a standard bucket of 10 l and fill the rest with water, you will have the concentration of the commercial products you can buy in the super markets.
Now about jumping in a swimming pool.
Many years ago when I worked at summer in a camping, I remember I needed to put daily 2 buckets (20 l) of NaClO in a swimming pool of 20m x 8m x (average) 1,2m = 192m³ = 192000 liters of water.
So jumping in a swimming pool will not help as the concentration is much too low.

Next summer I can try to put some drops of vinegar on the red mites but I think the concentration of kitchen vinegar is not enough.
 

GunnarW

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances (2011), Del Salvador (2013), every year a part starting from the border of NL/B close to Antwerpen
Now I have also some questions about bed bugs. I never found answers.
Imagine you want to check clothes. As the bug has the size of 5mm and eggs have the size of 1mm, you must be able to see the eggs.
If you have a shirt or a sock and you check every cm (inch) carefully, even triple check it, and you can't find eggs, can you give the shirt a "clear"? I can imagine for a pant, this would be more difficult.
Imagine you find some eggs, can you clear them by destroying them with your nail?
Could it be helpful if for example there is no washing machine in the area to hit with your fist or pinch with your thumb every cm of a piece of cloth?
 
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nathanael

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Now I have also some questions about bed bugs. I never found answers.
Imagine you want to check clothes. As the bug has the size of 5mm and eggs have the size of 1mm, you must be able to see the eggs.
If you have a shirt or a sock and you check every cm (inch) carefully, even triple check it, and you can't find eggs, can you give the shirt a "clear"? I can imagine for a pant, this would be more difficult.
Imagine you find some eggs, can you clear them by destroying them with your nail?
Could it be helpful if for example there is no washing machine in the area to hit with your fist or pinch with your thumb every cm of a piece of cloth?
 
N

nathanael

Guest
I used permethrin which I used to spray inside and outside of back pack. I also sprayed my sleeping bag and was safe. This product is recommended we in Canada can buy here so I go to Buffalo to purchase it.
 

ranthr

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C Frances 2005, 2007
Le Puy en Velay -SdC 2009
Via de la Plata 2011
gr 653 from Oloron to Puente la Reina 2012
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Irun to Santander 2013
Porto to SdC 2014
Astorga to SdC 2015
After reading all these posts I feel strongly for staying in my house, blocking my door and letting nobody in. My husband will be inspected thorougly to get in.;)
Still I haven't met any of the beast, but the last years I have treated my backpack with permethrin, bring a big plasticbag to put it in, use permethrintreated linen and, put my clothes in treated bags and so on. I even treat my suitcase before other travels too and feel a bit hysteric about it. Saw a tv- program once where some Norwegians experts said they turned the beds to look for signs in every hotelroom they stayed. I have not come as far as that yet, but I probably might end up there and it bothers me. The joy of travelling might disappear always beeing on the edge.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
I even treat my suitcase before other travels too and feel a bit hysteric about it.
All these treatment recommendations take very little time or expense. If you bring an infestation home, it will be one of the biggest regrets of your life! I would not worry about being paranoid, and would keep up the preventive measures (and not just after caminos; regular travels have a bed bug danger, too).:)
 

jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I am planning the next camino on Del Norte next April and all of sudden I am scared. I was mindful of the problem last April when I was on CF but luckily saw no sign of this to anyone. Is Del Norte different?

Tominrm:

Walked the Norte April 2014 and never encountered anyone with a bed bug bite. Take the normal precautions of pre spraying your gear and inspecting your sleeping quarters. While no one can guarantee a bed bug free walk, there are very few that get them. I have walked the last five Springs and only encountered one person bitten by bed bugs. I would not stress over the possibility of encountering bed bugs. That said, if yu do encounter these critters, stop and take care of the problem versus becoming a carrier of the little critters.

Ultreya,
Joe
 
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Deleted member 3000

Guest
"If a bug is detected, we recommend that you call a professional exterminator or alert the proper authorities for further evaluation."

I prefer to assume that there are bed bugs everywhere I stay, and act accordingly. Knowing if they are there has little value to me.;)

You can get sticky traps in the hardware store for about a dollar each. they will do the same thing.
 

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