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Bedbugs and Fleas


The man with the coffee and chorizo stand on the 17 km path to Calzadilla de la Cueza was very angry when he saw the bites on my face, arms and legs. I have been unlucky with bites. Most people have blisters, I got bitten. There is great disagreement as to where I got them from and whether they are bedbugs or fleas that bit me. This man was confident they were fleas and says I would have picked them up off the floor ie via my backpack. If this is the case, I also would like to remind peregrinos not to pick up dogs on the camino for that very reason. I have seen one pick up a puppy. There are many dogs on the camino and most of them are not in good condition so take care.

Bedbugs are different. They only bite in the middle of the night when the temperature is just right and they first anaesthesize the victim who only realizes they have been bitten much later. I know this from sleeping in B and B´s in London in the 1970´s. They live in the seams of mattresses.

These creatures exist where there are lots of people in crowded places and the angry man told me that my bites were an embarrasment to the Camino and to the Spanish establishments and that anyone who is bitten should immediately report this to the Civil Guard or to the Guardia Civil, who should then give the information to the Sanitation Department.

This is a touchy issue of course and it is also a little uncomfortable for the bearer of bites. The angry man asked me where I´d been ? ! as if my choices had something to do with my bites..... I replied, "en el Camino, en España" I am not sure yet if fleas, or bedbugs bit me, or where it happened.

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What can be done to prevent getting bite? Is there a powder or spray that we can apply prior to going to bed? It would be worth carrying the extra weight.


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese '08, Frances '11, del Norte '14, Invierno '16, Ingles '17, Primitivo October 2018
Hey Trundle..oh ye of the super packing list!! :D I'm not sure what the regs are in Canada, but something called Pyrethrum (at least in the USA) can be applied to your sleeping bag and should last thru several like at most once a year should be good. You do NOT spray this stuff on you...just maybe the bottoms of pants..and the outside of the sleeping bag. Apparently in England you can buy 'em pretreated...but we just got back from Camino Portuguese and not one out of the four of us had any bites (and then again, neither did any of the other pilgrims we met on our route)

Now that I think about it...probably spraying the outside or bottom portion of your backpack might not be a bad idea either. I think you should be able to find the stuff in a good camping store or "army/navy' store.

Good luck, Buen Camino


Active Member
Just back from Caminos Frances and Fisterra. I only saw one person with bedbug bites -in Olveiroa. There was no confusing them with flea bites - much bigger and more inflammed. Having been badly bitten last year I was carrying spray to treat my bedding etc and lotion to soothe bites and I was able to give the poor chap some of both. He did not really understand the need to treat all his gear thoroughly and unfortunately I suspect he will have carried them further as he seemed to think I was making an unnecessary fuss when I tried to explain what he needed to do to be rid of them. I had the misfortune to be on the bunk above him and even earplugs could not drown out the noise of his incessant scratching!! I would advice everyone to take some kind of insecticide with them as I found it difficult to buy anything stronger than fly spray which really wont be strong enough to deal with bedbugs.
Its hard to say whether there is less of a problem than last year as happily most people will have had no experience of bedbugs either last year or this but for those of us who react badly to insect bites it is a miserable experience.

Clarisa, if your bites are swollen and visible for several weeks I would suspect BBs so make sure you follow the advice previously given on the forum to ensure you don't introduce them to your home via your backpack etc. If you can't find it e-mail me and I will run through it for you. The son of a friend of mine brought back BBs from a hostel in Amsterdam over a year ago and she is still having reinfestations despite having thrown out furniture, carpets etc so dont unestimate the problem they can become!

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Active Member
The idea of using some of these products.... makes me uncomfortable. Of course getting bit is no fun either. At home I have a repellant called Buzz Off or Buzz Away, something like that. You can even make your own using citronella oil, eucalyptus, lemon oil, by mixing it into water and into a small spray bottle. There were alot of rosemary plants along the camino, and I would cut a sprig of it and rub it into my hair, backpack...did it work? No idea. Only in Triacastela I got a bit on my arm, not sure if it was bedbugs, probably was.
Bug Free


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Though I've never gotten bedbugs or fleas on the Camino, the many comments here have convinced me that a little precaution would be a good thing. I have tried to find the Bed Bug Undersheet , ... Undersheet , which has been recommended on this board, but it seems that it is not available in the US. Has anyone in the US been able to find it? Any ideas why it would not be sold in the US? And for those of you who have used it, does it seem to do the job? I share the concerns some have expressed about all the insecticide sprays and would prefer to stick to a sheet if possible. Thanks, Laurie


Active Member
I agree that chemicals are a last resort but sometimes they are the only recourse in a bad situation.

I was using a bedbug sheet the time I was bitten. I woke up covered in bites and found dozens of them trapped between my sleeping bag and the bedbug sheet. I can only assume they dropped down from the bunk above me and then were unable to make an escape!

For this reason I always opt for a top bunk now. I used the sheet again this year and had no problems but of course I will never know for sure if it was luck or tactics that prevented me from being bitten.

Another advantage of a top bunk is that the bottom ones are generally more popular and therefore top bunk mattresses are often cleaner and firmer. A disadvantage is that topbunkees have to be a little more organised in order to get packed up and go without disturbing the person underneath more than is unaviodable.

The BB proof sheet is also useful in that you can leave your kit and clothes on top of it when you go out and be confident they will be bug free when you get back.

Dont worry too much, I'm sure you will be fine. It is useful to know what to if you do encounter bugs but don't let it spoil your much needed sleep!



Time of past OR future Camino
The bedbug sheet is a flat piece of fine mesh- like a mesquito net that has been impregnated with permethrin. I got a little sqeemish about the critters and had less than a week before departure. I was able to find them at which is in Canada. I paid the extra postage for express mail and it arrived today- just as they promised (I leave tomorrow!). They seem very efficient and I would highly recommend them. Now, I just hope the "bedbug undersheet" is as effective!!!


Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
I encountered bedbugs in a couple of places last year on the Camino, but not the very rude man! I would have 'put a flea in his ear' for sure!

Bed bug bites can be distinguished from flea or mosquito bites by the fact that there tend to be several in a line formation. 'Landing lights' I call them. They can be appallingly itchy. Anthisan cream helps a lot. They don't spread a disease and normal insect repellant applied before bed is helpful at keeping them off. Mainly be careful not to bring them home, they are extremely difficult to eradicate, I even heard of someone moving house to escape them! I put my sleeping bag in the freezer and sprayed my back pack with bug spray, and washed all my clothes on a hot wash the minute I got home: my mother insisted!!!
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