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Bedbugs

jag

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hoping for 2022
Hi all. This is my first post, although I've been reading for awhile to get an idea of what sorts of things to think about in advance of walking the Camino. One that jumps out is the bedbug problem. Many pilgrims bring permethrin-treated sleeping bag liners, etc. But I found one thread where several people claimed that this doesn't work. I've now done enough research on my own to know that many bedbugs have developed resistance to permethrin, and so the treatment does not work if the particular bugs you encounter are resistant. The other complication is that not everyone is allergic to the bites, although repeated exposure increases the likelihood and speed of the reaction. So many people claim that they do X and haven't had a problem, but it might just be that they are being bitten but not reacting to the bites.

So my plan at this point is to make a sack out of insect netting or tulle that is big enough to get completely inside with my stuff and zipper shut. It would have some sort of plastic pop-up structure over the head, like a bivy-style tent, to keep the netting off my face. It looks like there are some bed-size pop-up mosquito-net tents being sold on amazon, although they don't fold down enough to go into a backpack.

Does the wisdom of the forum foresee any problems with this? Thanks in advance for any replies.

Jennifer
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I use permathrin and will continue. You sound like a creative person and all the best to you as you improvise to find another method to deter those critters. I'm sure I would feel claustrophobic and too warm with what you are proposing to use for yourself. My suggestion would be to plan to walk in cooler temperatures.
 

jag

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hoping for 2022
Yes, I'm planning on walking in either the fall or spring, and I'm not particularly prone to claustrophobia. The idea of a tiny tent sounds cozy.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Permethrin has worked for me on the Camino all these years.
I will continue to use it.
Same here. People just need to be aware that permethrin doesn't deter bedbugs or kill them on contact, so you can still get bit. However it does kill them with prolonged contact. I'm less concerned about being bit (I have been on past Caminos, but I don't get much of a reaction), and more concerned about transporting the pests to the next Albergue - or home. That's why I treat my backpack, sleep gear, and all my cloth stuff sacks. The little critters may get in my stuff, but they aren't coming out alive!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Yay, Bedbugs!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for asking!

Every time I've been on the Camino Frances, I have been bitten. Permethrin generally kills them, but not necessarily before they bite you.

What I see as the biggest problem with your suggestion is the nuisance factor and looking weird with a popup structure. Everyone else will be ignoring the bedbug problem. I like to have something subtle and simple. My current method is to use a fairly large silk liner. (Silk only because it is a good lightweight fabric that feels soft against the skin). I and my sleeping bag fit inside it, with enough length that I can cover my head if I choose. With lightweight silk, you can still breath through it, so you don't need a structure to hold it up. I added a zipper to the silk liner (it came only with ties) but it does not go all the way around. Realistically, I sleep with my face peeking out - if I think I am in bedbug territory, I put Deet repellent on my face.

In addition, I practice isolation with my packing. I have a large pack liner with a roll-top closure, that my backpack and everything else goes into for the night. In the morning, all my sleeping things go into a dry bag that is closed up and put into my pack. If I don't develop any itchy spots by arrival at my destination, I assume I was not invaded during the previous night. If I do develop itchy spots, my first stop would be at a laundromat to put things through the dryer. Having isolated the most exposed things (from sleeping), the decontamination process is a bit simpler and I don't need to sanitize my actual pack.

My final word of advice, is to recognize that there ARE bedbugs and you might still get bitten, but rarely is that a huge disaster. Take what precautions you can, but don't let it dominate your camino!
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
In addition, I practice isolation with my packing. I have a large pack liner with a roll-top closure, that my backpack and everything else goes into for the night.
This seems like a good idea. It's interesting though, that in three caminos, I have never even once seen anybody do this, even though I see it recommended on this forum fairly often.

Lots of good suggestions in your post, CC. You've been bitten EVERY time on the Frances? Remind me not to walk behind you! :D
 

DevereUx

Devereaux
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept-Oct 2018
I agree with all the above. While they do exist (everywhere in the world), I've used permethrin and never had a problem(🙏).
I do have a little spray bottle of the stuff and on occasion, I've sprayed the corners of the bed frame and the feet of the bed. My bag is sprayed before I leave and my sleep sack is (in theory) bug proof. On the Camino, stay tuned to what others are saying. Quite often, someone has a friend ahead who has knowledge of problems. I've not had a problem. So, I wouldn't consider it a big issue. If you don't feel comfortable in a place, move.
actually, as we move forward, given the present pandemic, I think we will never see a cleaner Camino in our lifetime! Everyone is spraying everything!!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
My final word of advice, is to recognize that there ARE bedbugs and you might still get bitten, but rarely is that a huge disaster. Take what precautions you can, but don't let it dominate your camino!
Right. IF you do have an encounter with bedbugs it really doesn't take much to de-bedbug your things. Even though I treat my gear with permethrin, if I suspect that I have been in contact with bedbugs I head to a place with a dryer that I can put all my cloth items into for 30 minutes. That will kill the bugs and their eggs. Don't worry about washing first, in fact some items, like down blankets and merino wool clothing is probably better off put into the dryer without getting wet. It's the heat of the dryer that kills the critters.
 

Jomas

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VF many times. Monaco-Lindau '15. Assisi-Pietralcina '17. CF '18. VF small part 09/20 next
It must be said that basically there should be no "bed bug problem" if there was a cleaning and sanitation (with steam or in the sun in good seasons). The same goes for pilgrims 🤫. I don't find it very healthy to use permethrin, in whatever composition it is. I understand that it is slightly toxic to humans. And abuse can annoy others. Your solution? I would say try it 😉! but I would not be able to have a peaceful sleep, so bagged. I use simple mint essential oil, in a few drops placed on the mattress protector and on my sleeping bag. It does not kill bedbugs but keeps them away. As a repellent. I must say that I have never had any particular ailments for bed bug bites.
Get going :)
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
Interesting. Perhaps we should spare a thought for our little uninvited companions in these unparalleled times? Can't be easy when your food supply and transport systems have all but disappeared. And those that thought they'd see out the quiet season in some dormitory nook or cranny have probably been flushed out by astringent C-19 disinfection. And it's not going to get any easier for them, with transport links down and far more regular and diligent cleaning regimens after each day's pilgrims have left.
I'd guess that bed bug biting reports will be far fewer for maybe a year or so. And for anyone travelling on the camino this year, I'd suggest that thinking through precautions to prevent C-19 far outweighs the same for bed bugs.
And just to say, we've had some very very long and passionate debates on whole threads about bed bug likelihood, avoidance measures, treatment and the efficacy/dangers of permethrin. If you're new here, I strongly recommend going back to those before posting on that topic here. Please.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I use simple mint essential oil, in a few drops placed on the mattress protector
Did you really contaminate the albergue property like this? For a start, if a bed-bug mattress protector is being used, there would be no need to apply further treatment. If not, it might be appropriate to treat your own gear, whether it be with permetrin, DEET or essential oils, but interfering like this with someone elses property seems to be completely unwarranted and unjustified. For a start, not everyone is going to be tolerant of essential oils spread around the place in even small doses in dormitories. I know I would prefer not to sleep anywhere with the offensive smells that seem to emanate from most 'essential' oils.
 

nathanael

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Plata,
I use permathrin and will continue. You sound like a creative person and all the best to you as you improvise to find another method to deter those critters. I'm sure I would feel claustrophobic and too warm with what you are proposing to use for yourself. My suggestion would be to plan to walk in cooler temperatures.
I agree with you I have used permethrin and have been bedbug free while around me people had them. So problem solved permethrin works for me.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
Your chance of a bedbug encounter on the Camino is not 100%. I have walked it several times. More than 100 nights at albergues and have never been bitten and can only recall maybe 4-5 conversations with fellow pilgrims who believe they had been bitten. Others will tell you will be bitten, even if you don't know it. What's the reality when you will walk? Who knows? I would say it's certainly not anything to be too concerned with. Just relax and enjoy the walk.
I personally don't see a need for a mini bivi shelter to sleep in every night at albergues.
 

Jomas

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VF many times. Monaco-Lindau '15. Assisi-Pietralcina '17. CF '18. VF small part 09/20 next
Did you really contaminate the albergue property like this?
but interfering like this with someone elses property seems to be completely unwarranted and unjustified.
exaggerated!!!🤔
but what did you think?

I use a few drops of mint essential oil on my sleeping bag and on the mattress cover (disposable) that I use to place under the sleeping bag. I put it on before dinner.
It's natural (maybe you thought about those chemicals .... nobody gives you the right), does not stain, evaporates and does not saturate the room.

And to tell the truth it is most appreciated by those who realized my use. 🤷‍♂️
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
Because I found that I could not get a good night's sleep in shared accomodations (plus I snore) I almost never stayed in crowded Albergues, choosing pensions, casa rurals, quintas and hotels always getting a private room.

I never experienced Bed Bugs!

Because I slept on clean sheets every night.

Initially I took a sleeping bag on the Route Frances, but hardly ever used it and since it took up lots of room in my backpack, I simply left it behind. Now lots more room in the Osprey pack!

It is backpacks that spread bed bugs from one place to another. I didn't have one at all on my entire Portuguese Camino from Lisbon.

I also never took a bath towel, private rooms have them.

I almost never paid for sheets and towels or to do a laundry - always free at hotels.

I would also take a little sandwich from the breakfast buffet (also often complementary) for a light lunch on the trail. If you start adding up all the perks, the 25-30 Euro hotel is not any more expensive than the 10 Euro albergue where you pay for sheets, laundry, breakfast etc.

Now my "system" would be considered great for the "social distancing" it resulted in.

Also did not have a cell phone. Didn't take polls either. Less is more.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I never experienced Bed Bugs!

Because I slept on clean sheets every night.
Since bedbugs live in the bed frames, clean sheets are no guarantee of being bed bug free! I have a friend who got her only bed bug bites while staying in a pensión, and using the provided clean sheets rather than her own silk liner.
I almost never paid for sheets and towels or to do a laundry - always free at hotels.
Do you have a list of these hotels that offer free laundry service? I have never encountered one, at least not in the 25-35€ range!
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I have never been bitten by a bedbug to my knowledge, but I have physically seen a few; crawling on the bed across from me twice in the morning and a few times crawling up the walls when lights were turned on in early morning...just saying.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Since bedbugs live in the bed frames, clean sheets are no guarantee of being bed bug free! I have a friend who got her only bed bug bites while staying in a pensión, and using the provided bedding,
I have heard these same stories from others; hotels provide no guarantee either...although it sure feels good to slide my body between those fresh sheets after days and days in a sleep sack/bag! 😃
 

Terry Callery

Chi Walker
Camino(s) past & future
"Portuguese Camino - In Search of the Infinite Moment" Amazon/Kindle books authored
"Slow Camino"
Since bedbugs live in the bed frames, clean sheets are no guarantee of being bed bug free! I have a friend who got her only bed bug bites while staying in a pensión, and using the provided clean sheets rather than her own silk liner.

Do you have a list of these hotels that offer free laundry service? I have never encountered one, at least not in the 25-35€ range!
I smile when ask -Laundry was Free at these places.
French
Albergue Puente Najera
El Delphin Verde Puente Villarente

Portuguese
Adega Tipica Ansaio
Santa Marinha Residential Vilar do Pinheiro

I did pay to do laundry, of course, at some places- but I never paid for sheets and towels.- but I think you miss my point which is that
25-30 Euros with all the perks is an amazing deal in Spain.

I also did not claim absolute guaranteed immunity from bed bugs - just said that at about
100 places over three Caminos, I never experienced them. Because I was not sleeping where someone else's
sleeping bag had just been.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
exaggerated!!!🤔
but what did you think?

I use a few drops of mint essential oil on my sleeping bag and on the mattress cover (disposable) that I use to place under the sleeping bag. I put it on before dinner.
It's natural (maybe you thought about those chemicals .... nobody gives you the right), does not stain, evaporates and does not saturate the room.

And to tell the truth it is most appreciated by those who realized my use. 🤷‍♂️
This topic has been rehearsed so many times on this forum that @ivar seriously considered changing the name to CaminodeBedbug ;). Sadly the great menthol myth has been given a revival. So here's a respectable source for a refutation: https://www.wired.com/2014/10/essential-oils-fail-killing-bed-bugs/
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Certain world leaders are now saying that mint oil will protect you from the Corona Virus particularly if mixed with household cleaners.
True or not, it is part of the sadness of our age that we would not be surprized to find this so.
 

jag

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hoping for 2022
Thanks, everyone, for the responses.

C Clearly, I like the idea of isolating sleep gear in case it needs to be heated in a dryer. I was already planning on using a pack liner to keep things dry, but will add a second sealed bag for my sleep system.

Around here (Tennessee) we have problems with chiggers and poison ivy, and I react very badly to both of those. Either will produce weeks to months of misery for me. I actually have a discolored scar on my arm from poison ivy. So I'm highly motivated to avoid anything in nature that will provoke an immune response.

According to this source, it's only 5% of people who have the itchy immune response to bedbugs, at least at first, and maybe I'd be one of the 95% who don't. But I'd rather not find out the hard way, if I can help it.

Terry, I can't really afford to stay in hotels every night, and really would prefer the albergues anyway.

Peregrino_Tom, I have read these fora extensively, which is why I wasn't asking for general advice, but proposing a solution that I haven't seen discussed before.

Regarding permethrin, here are some studies discussing the problem of bedbugs becoming resistant, apparently moreso in Europe than the US. This has also been discussed on the forum previously, but I can't find the thread that I'm thinking of specifically

European bedbugs

Testing permethrin-treated sheets

Here is the most relevant graph from the second link. The four lines are four strains collected from four US locations. As you can see, the strain represented by the red line is resistant to being killed by the permethrin-treated fabric. 1595000735317.png

This article found that a bit more than a third of Paris bedbugs are resistant to pyrethroids, the class of insecticides that permethrin belongs to.

Because some strains are still sensitive, I might spray at least some of my gear with permethrin. I hate to contribute to the problem, though, since the more it's used, the more the bugs will become resistant.

I think a better way to phrase my question is, if I show up with some sort of insect net contraption, how judgey are people likely to be? Might some albergue owners forbid it? Or would everyone just live and let live?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
In the morning, all my sleeping things go into a dry bag that is closed up and put into my pack.
I too am frequently bitten by bed bugs, and I have resolved to take them more seriously on my next camino. (I confess I said this last year, too, and had to scramble in Santiago). Like you, I do NOT want to bring them home.

But I am having trouble figuring out how to incorporate your step of isolating clothing. I assume your method requires separate dedicated sleeping clothes, which would mean more clothes to carry instead of just wearing some of the next day’s walking clothes to bed. Or am I missing an easy step?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I am having trouble figuring out how to incorporate your step of isolating clothing. I assume your method requires separate dedicated sleeping clothes, which would mean more clothes to carry
No, not more clothes! I have one dedicated evening/sleeping outfit and another day/walking outfit. That also reduces the laundry need - my evening outfit can go a few days without washing, and my day outfit can be a bit dirty. I wash only my socks and underwear (including a merino tank top "undershirt") every day. Other things when needed. My warm layer occasionally is needed for double duty, but I simply try to be aware of that, and examine and shake it out carefully before wearing or packing.

Don't get paranoid, but take reasonable precautions - like we have learned in Covid times.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Well, I have gotten bitten 5 out of 7 trips on the CF...sometimes more than once. My first camino...I got bitten 45 times in one night! It ended that trip in Burgos. I have gotten bitten 4 caminos in the Fall and one in the spring and 0 in the Winter. First trip I got bitten at two different locations...far apart. Last trip in the Fall of 2019 I was bitten twice also, in SJPdP, and Palas de Rei. Neither were albergues btw.

i spray permethrin on my sleeping clothes and take two sets of walking clothes. I use plastic bags to protect everything else. I put the backpack and, if we send a pack ahead, that in plastic garbage bags when in the room so nothing is exposed. Each morning, I check everything and then use a deet wipe on the outside of the bags. I have been getting less-bites. To minimize my reaction, I take a long lasting antihistamine, loratadine, daily, while on the camino and I carry a benadryl stick.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
No, not more clothes! I have one dedicated evening/sleeping outfit and another day/walking outfit. That also reduces the laundry need - my evening outfit can go a few days without washing, and my day outfit can be a bit dirty. I wash only my socks and underwear (including a merino tank top "undershirt") every day. Other things when needed. My warm layer occasionally is needed for double duty
Exactly my "system", too, and it works great...wouldn't change a thing.
 

Damico Walking

Ready, and waiting, to walk
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese coastal route May 2020 (not to be)
Portuguese coastal route TBD post COVID-19
This seems like a good idea. It's interesting though, that in three caminos, I have never even once seen anybody do this, even though I see it recommended on this forum fairly often.

Lots of good suggestions in your post, CC. You've been bitten EVERY time on the Frances? Remind me not to walk behind you! :D
That would be the best place to walk. Then by the time you come through the bedbugs are full and sleeping 👍
 

TAF

Member
Camino(s) past & future
July/Aug 2019 Logrono to Sahagun
May 2020 SJPP to Logrono
I treated my rucksack with Permethrin both inside and out. Everything in my rucksack was separated in either dry sacs or ziplock food bags. I took 2 large black bin liners and when I had reached my Albergue everything was placed in a bin liner including the rucksack and sealed with a clip. I had a permethrin under sheet and used a treated silk liner large enough to pull over my head to sleep in. I didn’t get bitten. When you arrive at any accommodation, inspect the room, mattress and bedding for signs of bugs. Don’t let this issue put you off enjoying your Camino and embrace it as all part of the experience! All clothes and bedding can be put in a dryer at high temperature as long as they are dry, without risk of them shrinking, even Lycra sports kit seems to tolerate this!
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I treated my rucksack with Permethrin both inside and out. Everything in my rucksack was separated in either dry sacs or ziplock food bags. I took 2 large black bin liners and when I had reached my Albergue everything was placed in a bin liner including the rucksack and sealed with a clip. I had a permethrin under sheet and used a treated silk liner large enough to pull over my head to sleep in. I didn’t get bitten. When you arrive at any accommodation, inspect the room, mattress and bedding for signs of bugs. Don’t let this issue put you off enjoying your Camino and embrace it as all part of the experience! All clothes and bedding can be put in a dryer at high temperature as long as they are dry, without risk of them shrinking, even Lycra sports kit seems to tolerate this!
The placing of the backpack in a trash bin liner is actually very practical. The liner weighs nothing to carry and it and the say clothes pins to seal it up with can easily be carried in an outside pocket. Easy to use and easy to stow away and if sealed will absolutely prevent any stowaways from getting in your pack. The bin liner also has the ability for double duty (something very important when packing light). It can be used as another layer of waterproofing inside the pack on really rainy/snowy days and could even if necessary be used as a poncho in an emergency. Before you start walking roll up your sleeping bag or liner and put inside the trash bin liner/bag and cinch up tight. That way if by some small chance there is a stowaway in it, you have isolated it away from your other stuff and can inspect your bag or liner before using at the next albergue. I always try and pack all my stuff together before I walk in a lighted area in the albergue or outside. I inspect my sleeping bag or liner before putting in the stuff sack and also give it a lot of shaking out. The liner really light colored and has nowhere for a bug to hide and I would see it immediately anyway. A good argument for light colored bedding.
I recall on several occasions in albergues seeing fellow pilgrims emptying their pack contents all over the floor near the beds, leaving packs on the beds etc and leaving the stuff strewn all night. That will absolutely allow bugs to leave their stuff and get into everyone else's Be advised Camino prospects, you will meet some sloppy fellow pilgrims. They are not bad people, and do not intend to be rude, but they are just slobs, but you have to be aware of that. No matter how clean and bug free an albergue was, the slobs will muck it up for everyone upon arrival. The same goes when they spread about the norovirus with their unwashed hands after toilet. It's on the Camino just as it is on cruise ships etc.
Also as stated, inspect the albergue beds and floors. The good ones have encased mattresses and pillows. Washable surfaces with no way for a bedbug to enter inside the mattress or pillow and live there. Same goes for the bunk frames etc. You will know which ones are clean and devoid of bedbug shit trails. Same with the baseboards along the floor/wall. If you think an albergue is dodgy and really feel strongly about it, you can just leave and find somewhere else to stay. It is perfectly OK to do that. A few occasions I just was not comfortable with the albergue bedding. Some were downright biohazard looking, with old cloth mattresses with stains on them. Stay at those places at your own risk, lol.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
The placing of the backpack in a trash bin liner is actually very practical.
RJM makes this point very well. I personally prefer to bring a big roll-top dry bag, but I admit it is more expensive and heavier than a plastic trash bag.
According to this source, it's only 5% of people who have the itchy immune response to bedbugs, at least at first,
Estimates of this are really all over the map. That 5% figure came from another referred paper that I couldn't access, so I would not have much confidence in it. But certainly many people are not sensitive to bedbug bites and the exact percentage is not particularly important.
if I show up with some sort of insect net contraption, how judgey are people likely to be? Might some albergue owners forbid it? Or would everyone just live and let live?
I think people will live and let live, and I don't see why a simple arrangement wouldn't be allowed. (Although "contraption" conjures up some not-so-simple images, and perhaps Covid restrictions will have the acceptability of additional materials on your bed.) For me, though, I find that I do not want to be bothered with any contraptions on the Camino, when I am packing, unpacking, going to bed, etc. If I made anything complicated, I would end up not using it, given that this is not a major health issue. That is why I suggest a simple silk liner that closes up well and is big enough to pull over your head. A silk liner can also serve as a hot-weather sleeping bag by itself, or as a cold-weather insulation layer. The netting would not serve in that way. Combine that with some simple isolation techniques and you will reduce your risks considerably.

Since the onset of Covid, I have developed a new understanding of how there are many people who will not accept scientific information as the basis for their beliefs and decisions. This is certainly true about bedbugs. It is not difficult to research the subject and separate the knowns from the unknowns and understand the differences. The knowns:
  1. Bedbugs are transferred along the Camino by pilgrims, to all types of accommodation. The seasonal and price variations can be argued.
  2. Some people are allergic to bedbug saliva and some people are not. The percentage can be argued.
  3. Permethrin and related chemicals kill bedbugs, unless they are resistant. The necessary type and length of exposure can be argued.
  4. Heat kills bedbugs at all stages (roughly 20 minutes over 55 C), as does cold (several days at -17C). Not much argument here.
  5. The effectiveness of typical Insect repellents has not been well-enough studied to provide certainty. My guess is that many insect repellents would have some effect on bedbugs, which is why I sometimes use DEET on exposed skin. Many people believe that essential oils work, and it might be so, but that is in the "unknown" category. Many people intensely dislike the smell of DEET and essential oils, or have concerns about safety. Incidentally "natural" does not mean "safe."
Edited to correct some statements in points 3 and 5 above.
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
RJM makes this point very well. I personally prefer to bring a big roll-top dry bag, but I admit it is more expensive and heavier than a plastic trash bag
I use a white trash compactor bag inside my pack, not a trash bag. The size is roomy without being humongous, it has enough length to roll up at the top and one serves the abuse of at least two+ caminos.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Permethrin (derived from a natural product) kills bedbugs, unless they are resistant. The necessary type and length of exposure can be argued.
@C clearly - Pyrethrins are derived from pyrethrum plants. Permethrin is a pyrethroid (ie mimics the action of the natural pyrethrins) first made in the early 1970s.

There is no proven repellent.
DEET, picardin and some proprietary compounds have been shown to be effective repellents, but the concentration is important. Low concentrations (~5%) offer little protection. I recall finding the full text of this article through my work library, which doesn't help the sceptics who downplay anything they cannot read themselves even when it is published in peer-reviewed journals :).

As an adendum, the indication that less than 5% of people suffer visible signs of bed bug bites is particularly germaine to those that claim bed bugs are not a problem because they didn't get bitten. Other than being a PIG fallacy, concluding that there isn't a problem is clearly unreasonable if only one in 20 bites or fewer produces a visible reaction. In the study referred to, 900 participants took part, and only 3.7% showed an immediate reaction, with a further 0.8% showing some reaction in the 18 days following a bite. Here is a link, albeit to a commercial web site, not the original publication site.
 
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Mycroft

Active Member
I agree with all the above. While they do exist (everywhere in the world), I've used permethrin and never had a problem(🙏).
I do have a little spray bottle of the stuff and on occasion, I've sprayed the corners of the bed frame and the feet of the bed. My bag is sprayed before I leave and my sleep sack is (in theory) bug proof. On the Camino, stay tuned to what others are saying. Quite often, someone has a friend ahead who has knowledge of problems. I've not had a problem. So, I wouldn't consider it a big issue. If you don't feel comfortable in a place, move.
actually, as we move forward, given the present pandemic, I think we will never see a cleaner Camino in our lifetime! Everyone is spraying everything!!
Hey, DevereUx, when you write your bag is sprayed before you leave, do you mean before you leave home, or every morning before you leave the albergue?
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
@RJM... Great and thorough advice.
@TAF comment basically provided me the proverbial light bulb above the head when she mentioned putting her pack in a bin bag everyday. I have done that when on actual outdoor backpacking treks where I leave my backpack outside and the heavy mil bin bag keeps it dry, but for some reason it never occurred to me to do that as a way to keep my stuff protected from others cross contaminating in albergues. It could also have the added benefit of another layer of deterrent (very minor) from a thief. Having to open the bin bag up takes time and a bit more noise added to the attempt. I believe on my next Camino (God willing) I will bin bag the backpack daily. Takes only a minute and not invasive to anyone around me. In fact may convert fellow pilgrims to doing the same when they see it.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I use a few drops of mint essential oil on my sleeping bag and on the mattress cover (disposable) that I use to place under the sleeping bag. I put it on before dinner.
I use simple mint essential oil, in a few drops placed on the mattress protector
There is clearly a word usage issue here. I would clearly distinguish between a disposable sheet and a mattress protector fitted to a mattress - they are two quite different things to me.

My objection to people using any unnecessary chemicals, natural or otherwise, stands. Treat your own gear by all means, but I object to people using them in a dormitory or common area. You are not in your own home, and you have no idea how other people might react to something you use. As for others finding 'essential' oils pleasant, don't kid yourself - not everyone does.
 

RRat

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning 2017
Hi all. This is my first post, although I've been reading for awhile to get an idea of what sorts of things to think about in advance of walking the Camino. One that jumps out is the bedbug problem. Many pilgrims bring permethrin-treated sleeping bag liners, etc. But I found one thread where several people claimed that this doesn't work. I've now done enough research on my own to know that many bedbugs have developed resistance to permethrin, and so the treatment does not work if the particular bugs you encounter are resistant. The other complication is that not everyone is allergic to the bites, although repeated exposure increases the likelihood and speed of the reaction. So many people claim that they do X and haven't had a problem, but it might just be that they are being bitten but not reacting to the bites.

So my plan at this point is to make a sack out of insect netting or tulle that is big enough to get completely inside with my stuff and zipper shut. It would have some sort of plastic pop-up structure over the head, like a bivy-style tent, to keep the netting off my face. It looks like there are some bed-size pop-up mosquito-net tents being sold on amazon, although they don't fold down enough to go into a backpack.

Does the wisdom of the forum foresee any problems with this? Thanks in advance for any replies.

Jennifer
They're just bugs. Funny how big a deal it's made. Forty five days on the Camino it was of so little concern to me and fellow walkers. Most bites were on women on their lower legs. I wonder if not bedbugs but insect bites from going out to the brush to go potty..
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
@C clearly - Pyrethrins are derived from pyrethrum plants. Permethrin is a pyrethroid (ie mimics the action of the natural pyrethrins) first made in the early 1970s.

DEET, picardin and some proprietary compounds have been shown to be effective repellents, but the concentration is important. Low concentrations (~5%) offer little protection. I recall finding the full text of this article through my work library, which doesn't help the sceptics who downplay anything they cannot read themselves even when it is published in peer-reviewed journals :).
Thanks. I have edited my post, and hope it is more accurate now.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
They're just bugs. Funny how big a deal it's made. Forty five days on the Camino it was of so little concern to me and fellow walkers. Most bites were on women on their lower legs. I wonder if not bedbugs but insect bites from going out to the brush to go potty..
I think that you may misunderstand why so many posters in this forum make "a big deal" out of bed bugs. The primary concern of most, even those who may have little or no reaction to the bugs, is the risk of taking them home to multiply. They can thoroughly infest a home, feast on, and cause severe reactions in, susceptible persons who enter the home, and be very difficult to get rid of. An expensive and time-consuming process by professional exterminators is sometimes necessary. Some of us go through an elaborate process of decontamination when we arrive home post-camino, to avoid this.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
They're just bugs. Funny how big a deal it's made. Forty five days on the Camino it was of so little concern to me and fellow walkers. Most bites were on women on their lower legs. I wonder if not bedbugs but insect bites from going out to the brush to go potty..
You do have a valid point. By far I see more concern and discussion about bedbugs on this forum than I ever have on almost 200 days on the various Camino routes. Sure, a few times, but so few and unimportant I barely even remember them.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
I think a better way to phrase my question is, if I show up with some sort of insect net contraption, how judgey are people likely to be? Might some albergue owners forbid it? Or would everyone just live and let live?
I don't think people will judge at all. I use an extra long silk lining bag, with hat elastic threaded through a channel at the top. I climb inside it and pull it over my head, and cinch the hat elastic tight - so I am in a kind of shroud. Just like you are proposing, without any additional netting. The silk is thin enough to breathe through although it did take me a few nights to get used to it. No-one has been "judgey" but it did cause a few laughs. Who cares?

I imagine netting might be better if having your face covered in silk makes you feel claustrophobic. You could use a wire threaded a channel in the sleeping bag to keep the netting away from your face.
 

LesR

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2017, 2018; Camino Portuguese 2019
Hi all. This is my first post, although I've been reading for awhile to get an idea of what sorts of things to think about in advance of walking the Camino. One that jumps out is the bedbug problem.

Does the wisdom of the forum foresee any problems with this? Thanks in advance for any replies.

Jennifer
There are two types of people that walk a camino - those who pre-plan for dealing with bedbugs, and those who don't...

I have walked three caminos now and have not met bedbugs once. Have met a handful of others who have and they seemed to manage quite well.

If I am to walk another camino, I will remain in the "if bedbugs happen, bedbugs happen, and I will deal with them then" camp...
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
Since bedbugs live in the bed frames, clean sheets are no guarantee of being bed bug free! I have a friend who got her only bed bug bites while staying in a pensión, and using the provided clean sheets rather than her own silk liner.

Do you have a list of these hotels that offer free laundry service? I have never encountered one, at least not in the 25-35€ range!
Yes, both times I was bitten (2 different Caminos) it was in a nice (expensive) apartment with clean sheets.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
There is clearly a word usage issue here. I would clearly distinguish between a disposable sheet and a mattress protector fitted to a mattress - they are two quite different things to me.

My objection to people using any unnecessary chemicals, natural or otherwise, stands. Treat your own gear by all means, but I object to people using them in a dormitory or common area. You are not in your own home, and you have no idea how other people might react to something you use. As for others finding 'essential' oils pleasant, don't kid yourself - not everyone does.
I agree with you, I have a sensitivity with many strong scents, especially essential oils which I find very strong. I have had to change rooms due to people using essential oils.
 

Tai Chi

a.k.a. "Phil"
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018); Madrid & Ingles (2019); Portugese Coastal & Invierno (2020)
Yay, Bedbugs!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for asking!

Every time I've been on the Camino Frances, I have been bitten. Permethrin generally kills them, but not necessarily before they bite you.

What I see as the biggest problem with your suggestion is the nuisance factor and looking weird with a popup structure. Everyone else will be ignoring the bedbug problem. I like to have something subtle and simple. My current method is to use a fairly large silk liner. (Silk only because it is a good lightweight fabric that feels soft against the skin). I and my sleeping bag fit inside it, with enough length that I can cover my head if I choose. With lightweight silk, you can still breath through it, so you don't need a structure to hold it up. I added a zipper to the silk liner (it came only with ties) but it does not go all the way around. Realistically, I sleep with my face peeking out - if I think I am in bedbug territory, I put Deet repellent on my face.

In addition, I practice isolation with my packing. I have a large pack liner with a roll-top closure, that my backpack and everything else goes into for the night. In the morning, all my sleeping things go into a dry bag that is closed up and put into my pack. If I don't develop any itchy spots by arrival at my destination, I assume I was not invaded during the previous night. If I do develop itchy spots, my first stop would be at a laundromat to put things through the dryer. Having isolated the most exposed things (from sleeping), the decontamination process is a bit simpler and I don't need to sanitize my actual pack.

My final word of advice, is to recognize that there ARE bedbugs and you might still get bitten, but rarely is that a huge disaster. Take what precautions you can, but don't let it dominate your camino!
 

Tai Chi

a.k.a. "Phil"
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018); Madrid & Ingles (2019); Portugese Coastal & Invierno (2020)
I use the same isolation technique (backpack goes into a large liner sack on arrival at the alberque; used bedding sealed in a dry bag before going back into the backpack.)
Had never thought about putting my sleeping bag inside my sleeping bag liner... I might try this when I get back to the Camino!
 

Errante

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Norte & Frances Nov 2019
Like others while walking el Camino I used a sleeping bag liner. Also, at the albergue I placed my backpack, etc in a large, thicker garbage bag - called contractor bags in US. I allowed myself to be okay with perhaps getting bitten, like LesR says "if bedbugs happen, bedbugs happen, and I will deal with them then."
BUT I was careful upon returning home. My fam brought a change of clothes to the airport. I changed & placed everything (backpack & Camino clothes) in a sealed garbage bag. Kept that out of the house for several weeks.
For me the bigger worry and headache was bringing bedbugs home.
 
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E V Waight

It's the journey, not the destination.
Camino(s) past & future
September (2017)
Possible September (2018)
Holy Year (2021) (all three Gladys, John and I)
I did the Camino Frances in September 2017 from St Jean to Santiago and have/had plans for 2021 again. During that month I stayed at all the different types of albergues (private, municipal, religious/monasteries, donativos etc. including one night in a hotel room) to get the full experience. I never experienced any bedbugs. Not once. Neither did I meet any pilgrims that had encounters with the critters. I am not sure if just lady luck was with me or the time of year. But I also read about others' experiences before and since. I guess it is the luck of the draw. I would say be less concerned about bedbugs and more with having an open mind and enjoying the walk for after all, it is the journey that is rewarding. Good luck!
 

BarbaraW

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances part (2019)
I love the way everyone has piled in to post on a (nearly) Covid-free thread on a longstanding issue!

I never came across a bug on my 2 weeks Camino walking last year, but soon after I came back I went to stay overnight with a friend in London. As I was getting drowsy I caught sight of something skittering across my pillow. In a flash I'd managed to squash it, and look it up on my tablet, to discover that it was a bed bug. Now I slept soundly and wasn't bitten, but thought I really ought to tell my friend about it. As a way of salving her embarrassment I airily said "oh we had bed bugs on the Camino." I meant that there were bed bugs on the Camino and they really weren't anything to be upset about, but she understood I had actually picked up bed bugs on the Camino and thought I'd brought them home and into her house.
Unfortunately I was using the backpack and sheet sleeping bag that I'd used on the Camino, and these with my other things were promptly banished to a bin (garbage) bag in the garden (I was allowed to stay!) I was sent home with strict instructions to buy bed bug tracks in case my house was infested.

It wasn't and it turned out my friend had had an infestation in her house a few months previously.

We are still good friends....
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
On my first Camino in late August/September 2016 I met quite a number of people who had been bitten, some with many bites all over their bodies. On walks in July in different years I had some suspicious bites. Last year in May/June I didn't hear of anyone being bitten. I think that the later in season the better chance that bedbugs will be present in the albergues.
 

charlesstones

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
France 05/2018 & Portugues 09/2018 , France 05/2019
Planning Via del Plata
Hi
I have walked the Camino 3 times and never had a problem. I do spray my bag and sleeping bag before I go inside and out. I would also recommend flying into Spain or the UK or Ireland and flying to Biarritz to transfer to SJPdP. Do not put your back pack on your bed ever as this is one of the ways they get around. If you follow common sense you should be ok.
 

malingerer

samarkand
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
They're just bugs. Funny how big a deal it's made. Forty five days on the Camino it was of so little concern to me and fellow walkers. Most bites were on women on their lower legs. I wonder if not bedbugs but insect bites from going out to the brush to go potty..
is that the potty on which to lower the bum or "going potty" as in "barking mad" from reading these posts? :) They are called "bed"-bugs because the little devils like a comfortable snooze like the rest of us!:)

keep on truckin!

samarkand.
 

RRat

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning 2017
I think that you may misunderstand why so many posters in this forum make "a big deal" out of bed bugs. The primary concern of most, even those who may have little or no reaction to the bugs, is the risk of taking them home to multiply. They can thoroughly infest a home, feast on, and cause severe reactions in, susceptible persons who enter the home, and be very difficult to get rid of. An expensive and time-consuming process by professional exterminators is sometimes necessary. Some of us go through an elaborate process of decontamination when we arrive home post-camino, to avoid this.
My elaborate process when arriving home was leaving my bag outside and entering the house in my scivies. Not a big deal. To me it just seems like an over reaction.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I think that you may misunderstand why so many posters in this forum make "a big deal" out of bed bugs. The primary concern of most, even those who may have little or no reaction to the bugs, is the risk of taking them home to multiply. They can thoroughly infest a home, feast on, and cause severe reactions in, susceptible persons who enter the home, and be very difficult to get rid of. An expensive and time-consuming process by professional exterminators is sometimes necessary. Some of us go through an elaborate process of decontamination when we arrive home post-camino, to avoid this.
I also don't want to be the person who is spreading them along the Camino from albergue to albergue.
 

henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
RJM makes this point very well. I personally prefer to bring a big roll-top dry bag, but I admit it is more expensive and heavier than a plastic trash bag.

Estimates of this are really all over the map. That 5% figure came from another referred paper that I couldn't access, so I would not have much confidence in it. But certainly many people are not sensitive to bedbug bites and the exact percentage is not particularly important.

I think people will live and let live, and I don't see why a simple arrangement wouldn't be allowed. (Although "contraption" conjures up some not-so-simple images, and perhaps Covid restrictions will have the acceptability of additional materials on your bed.) For me, though, I find that I do not want to be bothered with any contraptions on the Camino, when I am packing, unpacking, going to bed, etc. If I made anything complicated, I would end up not using it, given that this is not a major health issue. That is why I suggest a simple silk liner that closes up well and is big enough to pull over your head. A silk liner can also serve as a hot-weather sleeping bag by itself, or as a cold-weather insulation layer. The netting would not serve in that way. Combine that with some simple isolation techniques and you will reduce your risks considerably.

Since the onset of Covid, I have developed a new understanding of how there are many people who will not accept scientific information as the basis for their beliefs and decisions. This is certainly true about bedbugs. It is not difficult to research the subject and separate the knowns from the unknowns and understand the differences. The knowns:
  1. Bedbugs are transferred along the Camino by pilgrims, to all types of accommodation. The seasonal and price variations can be argued.
  2. Some people are allergic to bedbug saliva and some people are not. The percentage can be argued.
  3. Permethrin and related chemicals kill bedbugs, unless they are resistant. The necessary type and length of exposure can be argued.
  4. Heat kills bedbugs at all stages (roughly 20 minutes over 55 C), as does cold (several days at -17C). Not much argument here.
  5. The effectiveness of typical Insect repellents has not been well-enough studied to provide certainty. My guess is that many insect repellents would have some effect on bedbugs, which is why I sometimes use DEET on exposed skin. Many people believe that essential oils work, and it might be so, but that is in the "unknown" category. Many people intensely dislike the smell of DEET and essential oils, or have concerns about safety. Incidentally "natural" does not mean "safe."
Edited to correct some statements in points 3 and 5 above.


That’s the problem with engineers and scientists, you do insist on basing your opinions on facts.

We economists (retired) reserve the right to hold two concurrent conflicting opinions as equally valid and change our mind more often than our underwear.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
Because some strains are still sensitive, I might spray at least some of my gear with permethrin. I hate to contribute to the problem, though, since the more it's used, the more the bugs will become resistant.

I think a better way to phrase my question is, if I show up with some sort of insect net contraption, how judgey are people likely to be? Might some albergue owners forbid it? Or would everyone just live and let live?
I think you just go for a walk Jag , take whatever you want and be comfortable.
The Camino is a very simple walk that has been complicated by our own limitations.
The people from villages , towns and even little hamlets have been devastated financially and mentally lately , so i for one would not worry about the poor old bed bug.
With the new restrictions in place half have already gone to heaven .
 

cmk033

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Jan 21~Feb 27, 2019
There is clearly a word usage issue here. I would clearly distinguish between a disposable sheet and a mattress protector fitted to a mattress - they are two quite different things to me.

My objection to people using any unnecessary chemicals, natural or otherwise, stands. Treat your own gear by all means, but I object to people using them in a dormitory or common area. You are not in your own home, and you have no idea how other people might react to something you use. As for others finding 'essential' oils pleasant, don't kid yourself - not everyone does.
These two links about the bed bug is the best I've seen. Thanks you, dougfitz. I've had two bites on my lower arm on my last trip to Francis, just once in an Albergue. It appeared as two red dots with no irritations. But I've seen a women I was travelling with, had irritations like mosquito bites, puffing up is places of bites, new bites, night after night and also a man with itching irritations that he could not stop scratching that skin broke open in few areas. After seeing that, the Bed Bug became my chief concern during the remaining time walking. Then I was concerned that I will bring this back home.

I went to Camino in February of 2019, in winter. When I came home, I placed all my belongings in a black garbage bag, sealed and left it out in subfreezing temperature for few days. I think you can do the same in summer time by putting the sealed garbage bag by leave them inside the car parked outside in hot sunny hot day.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Most bites were on women on their lower legs. I wonder if not bedbugs but insect bites from going out to the brush to go potty..
Very funny😃, but although I "go" in bushes when necessary on five caminos, I have not had bug bites nor bed bug bites anywhere on me. I have seen others have them on their neck.
 

Mr Magoo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pilegrimsleden ( 2016).
Camino Primitivo ( 2017).
Lots of good info here for you, I havent read it all , but this is what I had (if the image downloads.Maybe it wont. Use your imagination!).
Its like what you propose. Its a homemade bug bivvy made with an ultralight silnylon floor and a midge netting tube. No zips, just a very large drawcorded hole to get in. As you see it hangs up, a wire hoop isnt needed.
I needed this for sleeping out under my poncho, which I did on 3 nights, doing the Primitivo. I also slept in it in albergues to assuage my not-taking-bugs-home-at-any-cost pessimism. I merely slept in lower bunks and hooked it up onto to the slats above me, along with socks, etc..
Nobody objected or even commented, The Camino is full of nutters like us, so go ahead.
Of course it got too hot under it sometimes, but then I just used it like a liner, unhooked. It was treated with permethrin,
When I got home it went in the freezer for a week along with everything else. I didnt want to go through what a chap I knew went through...months of misery surrounded by plastic bags as "experts" failed to decontaminate his young family's home.
People will accuse us of being paranoid (same as with following covid advice) but we can accuse them of being lazy , cant we ?
 

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Kym Camino

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 2014
April 2018
October 2020
Hi all. This is my first post, although I've been reading for awhile to get an idea of what sorts of things to think about in advance of walking the Camino. One that jumps out is the bedbug problem. Many pilgrims bring permethrin-treated sleeping bag liners, etc. But I found one thread where several people claimed that this doesn't work. I've now done enough research on my own to know that many bedbugs have developed resistance to permethrin, and so the treatment does not work if the particular bugs you encounter are resistant. The other complication is that not everyone is allergic to the bites, although repeated exposure increases the likelihood and speed of the reaction. So many people claim that they do X and haven't had a problem, but it might just be that they are being bitten but not reacting to the bites.

So my plan at this point is to make a sack out of insect netting or tulle that is big enough to get completely inside with my stuff and zipper shut. It would have some sort of plastic pop-up structure over the head, like a bivy-style tent, to keep the netting off my face. It looks like there are some bed-size pop-up mosquito-net tents being sold on amazon, although they don't fold down enough to go into a backpack.

Does the wisdom of the forum foresee any problems with this? Thanks in advance for any replies.

Jennifer
I had a friend who walked the CF in 2005,2006 & 2009. He was telling me that if bedbugs were reported, the albergue had to close until treatment had eradicated them. I totally believed him and I never came across any bedbugs either of the times I have walked the CF. However, it seems to be that the bedbug situation has become more prevalent and persistent in recent years. My advice is check the mattress and bed frame. If you see them or signs of them, report it to the hospitalero and find another place to sleep.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles 2016 Camino Portuguese 2017 Considering Invierno late (2020) In lieu of VdlP (2020)
Same here. People just need to be aware that permethrin doesn't deter bedbugs or kill them on contact, so you can still get bit. However it does kill them with prolonged contact. I'm less concerned about being bit (I have been on past Caminos, but I don't get much of a reaction), and more concerned about transporting the pests to the next Albergue - or home. That's why I treat my backpack, sleep gear, and all my cloth stuff sacks. The little critters may get in my stuff, but they aren't coming out alive!
A number of Bedbug threads do stress not allowing your pack to come into contact with the bed mattress and coverings. This is to avoid picking up or transferring bed bugs to / from the bed. Where possible I use a strap on my pack with a snap hook to clip it onto the framework of the bed well clear of the mattress. I also use strong PVC rubble bags to store my clothes and stuff in. A blast of permethrin in the pack helps with the control of insects.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
I saw someone using a bed bug tent in an albergue once. It had no frame or poles but needed to be used in a lower bunk, hanging from a string tied to the upper bed. I thought it was a great idea!

As someone who suffers from severe reactions to bed bug bites and who was bitten even when taking all kinds of precautions, it seemed like a smart idea. Especially since there are too many albergues that don't care, and too many pilgrims who take no precautions at all and who claim that there's no problem... or even tell you that YOU are the problem, even when you're the only one in the whole dormitory with an anti bedbugs routine, while those who accused you of carrying them around did do nothing to prevent that themselves!

So, if you have a bed bug tent that needs a lower bunk, you might need to ask others to change beds from time to time. One with a frame would be easier to use even on top bunks, but heavier to carry.

Some people might make fun of you, but who cares?

Next time I walk, I‘ll certainly bring one, and I‘ll soak it in permethrin before. Three times on the Francés and many times bitten despite all precautions, last time had to go to the urgencias and had to take antibiotics, antihistamins and cortison for a week because of infection and general reaction including fever… not going to take any chances anymore.

To those who make fun of it and claim it‘s not a big deal: for some it is. You‘re lucky you don‘t have a severe reaction to the bites. Good for you. But please, don‘t make fun of those who do and take necessary precautions.

Buen bed bug free Camino
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
This topic has been rehearsed so many times on this forum that @ivar seriously considered changing the name to CaminodeBedbug ;). Sadly the great menthol myth has been given a revival. So here's a respectable source for a refutation: https://www.wired.com/2014/10/essential-oils-fail-killing-bed-bugs/
Thank you. Rehash for sure,, but a reminder for anybody new.. Mint essential oil (or Lavender, choke!) would not bother a bedbug, but it WOULD bother me. Please don't.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
My advice is check the mattress and bed frame. If you see them or signs of them, report it to the hospitalero and find another place to sleep.

Sometimes there is no other place to sleep.

Sometimes, even though you present the bedbugs you caught to the hospitalero, they‘ll tell you it‘s not bed bugs or it‘s no big deal, or they‘ll even blame you for an obviously months old infestation.

Sometimes you find signs of bedbugs in a place that is not infested anymore (bed bug feces still there, but live bed bugs themselves not, since the place was treated shortly before).

Sometimes you don‘t find bed bug signs in a place and get bitten anyways because they have been brought in there just recently and signs are still difficult to find.

You don‘t always know whether they‘re actually there or not. Wish it was that easy!
 

RemysMimi

Hooked on the Camino!!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2018)
Frances or Portuguese (2020)
Hi all. This is my first post, although I've been reading for awhile to get an idea of what sorts of things to think about in advance of walking the Camino. One that jumps out is the bedbug problem. Many pilgrims bring permethrin-treated sleeping bag liners, etc. But I found one thread where several people claimed that this doesn't work. I've now done enough research on my own to know that many bedbugs have developed resistance to permethrin, and so the treatment does not work if the particular bugs you encounter are resistant. The other complication is that not everyone is allergic to the bites, although repeated exposure increases the likelihood and speed of the reaction. So many people claim that they do X and haven't had a problem, but it might just be that they are being bitten but not reacting to the bites.

So my plan at this point is to make a sack out of insect netting or tulle that is big enough to get completely inside with my stuff and zipper shut. It would have some sort of plastic pop-up structure over the head, like a bivy-style tent, to keep the netting off my face. It looks like there are some bed-size pop-up mosquito-net tents being sold on amazon, although they don't fold down enough to go into a backpack.

Does the wisdom of the forum foresee any problems with this? Thanks in advance for any replies.

Jennifer
I think that given the current COVID situation, bedbugs may be least of your problems. The sanitary conditions will probably be much, much better and as such will help to alleviate this problem. Do you really want to carry the extra weight?
 

Jomas

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
VF many times. Monaco-Lindau '15. Assisi-Pietralcina '17. CF '18. VF small part 09/20 next
if bedbugs were reported, the albergue had to close until treatment had eradicated them.
This is the focal point of the bedbugs topic. And it's the first thing I wrote in my first post. But the arrows have fallen on something else🤷‍♂️. The source that was indicated to me (I don't know all those compounds tested) is scientific in its preparation but not in the results (absolute truths) if I read: "perhaps .... probably .... research should continue". Like other scientific or presumed sources that are found on the web, natural remedies, against the same. And also for the sprays that are indicated in this post and others, in the forum. And what natural does not mean "safer" applies to everything and everyone, even for a steak! But what nobody here and elsewhere can unionize is everyone's good faith in having the utmost respect for others and the properties of others. Especially when one cannot know one's personal physical and health situations. Respect that also translates into being tolerant if someone near your bed sprays the product in all corners of the mattress, under the frame and everywhere around. If you exceed the limit, all you do is present it and in extreme evils change places! It never happened to me, neither against me nor in my favor. I congratulate all those who take precise and punctual measures, always and everywhere, in implementing personal prevention 🤞👍. I immediately apologize for any incorrect terms or for the absence of particular details: the English language is not my native language. And I also want to apologize to @jag, which probably had to absorb interventions that were not in keeping with the question presented. Having said that, I will look good in the future, in expressing a point of view.
Wish you a serenity time
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
Yes, I'm planning on walking in either the fall or spring, and I'm not particularly prone to claustrophobia. The idea of a tiny tent sounds cozy.
Spring is better for not meeting any bedbugs, as the albergues have had time to be emptied and scrubbed. The bedbugs haven't had as many chances to hitch a ride.

For the record-- I never encounter a bedbug on the camino (walked in spring) or from Le Puy to Conques (walked in Fall).
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
I immediately apologize for any incorrect terms or for the absence of particular details: the English language is not my native language. And I also want to apologize to @jag, which probably had to absorb interventions that were not in keeping with the question presented. Having said that, I will look good in the future, in expressing a point of view.
Wish you a serenity time
Your English is great-- your vocabulary is impressive! I only wish my second language was as good. :)
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
I immediately apologize for any incorrect terms or for the absence of particular details: the English language is not my native language.
There really isn't any need to do that. I doubt very many of us here have native language levels of skill in a second language, and generally don't expect that from others. After all, there are two major versions of English used on this forum, with the attendant misunderstandings from both different word usage and grammatical convention. Even if it takes a couple of posts to clarify what we mean, it is generally worth it in the end.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I use what Trecile used. Good stuff!
Yes, I found it easy to apply, it lasts 6 weeks or so, works for a whole Camino. A bottle did 2 packs and 2 sleeping bags (outside only) so was quite cost effective. It seems to be readily available as we can get it in New Zealand (and we are as remote as it gets).
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Yes, I found it easy to apply, it lasts 6 weeks or so, works for a whole Camino. A bottle did 2 packs and 2 sleeping bags (outside only) so was quite cost effective. It seems to be readily available as we can get it in New Zealand (and we are as remote as it gets).
None of the Sawyers products have been registered for sale in Australia. An alternative is Equip Debugger, which can be obtained from serious outdoors stores.
 

Nocheechako

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances in 2015 & 2016. Portuguese, Muxia next.
My family has 7 compestellas from St Jean to Santiago. Thats 265 alberge bunks. We did not ever have to deal with bed bugs, though others near us did. If encountered follow the steps to treat for them and then continue on. I would recommend not starting your journey with this worry.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
I have never been bitten in France or Spain, though I've seen signs once or twice and always taken the precautions of keeping stuff in drybags, (three, sleeping bag, clean clothes, dirty clothes) and bin bags for my pack. Now Myanmar was a whole other story. No language barrier at the Pharmacy though. Point at the bites resulted in an arsenal of treatment and a note to take to the supermarket for the death spray for my bags. Possibly not very good for humans, but it did the job.
It really isn't a good idea to take them home with you.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
Because I found that I could not get a good night's sleep in shared accomodations (plus I snore) I almost never stayed in crowded Albergues, choosing pensions, casa rurals, quintas and hotels always getting a private room.

I never experienced Bed Bugs!

Because I slept on clean sheets every night.
You were just lucky 😉
I encountered bed bugs in a lovely, very clean hotel room - a hotel I have used many times.
Needless to say I have since gone there again and it was back to normal.
It really depends on who was there just before you.
I also had an infestation of fleas (in a pillow!) in a private room in a brand new albergue, the hospitalera had taken pity on a pilgrim with a puppy and let him in.
 

MikeJS

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (12), VdlP (16). Sureste/Invierno (17). Olvidado/San Salvador/Primitivo (19)
I have never been bitten on any of my caminos as far as I can tell, but then I always check the bed and surrounding areas before I decide to stay or unpack. I do this whether its a albergue or a 5 star hotel anywhere in the world.
 

RRat

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning 2017
Thanks, everyone, for the responses.

C Clearly, I like the idea of isolating sleep gear in case it needs to be heated in a dryer. I was already planning on using a pack liner to keep things dry, but will add a second sealed bag for my sleep system.

Around here (Tennessee) we have problems with chiggers and poison ivy, and I react very badly to both of those. Either will produce weeks to months of misery for me. I actually have a discolored scar on my arm from poison ivy. So I'm highly motivated to avoid anything in nature that will provoke an immune response.

According to this source, it's only 5% of people who have the itchy immune response to bedbugs, at least at first, and maybe I'd be one of the 95% who don't. But I'd rather not find out the hard way, if I can help it.

Terry, I can't really afford to stay in hotels every night, and really would prefer the albergues anyway.

Peregrino_Tom, I have read these fora extensively, which is why I wasn't asking for general advice, but proposing a solution that I haven't seen discussed before.

Regarding permethrin, here are some studies discussing the problem of bedbugs becoming resistant, apparently moreso in Europe than the US. This has also been discussed on the forum previously, but I can't find the thread that I'm thinking of specifically

European bedbugs

Testing permethrin-treated sheets

Here is the most relevant graph from the second link. The four lines are four strains collected from four US locations. As you can see, the strain represented by the red line is resistant to being killed by the permethrin-treated fabric. View attachment 79005

This article found that a bit more than a third of Paris bedbugs are resistant to pyrethroids, the class of insecticides that permethrin belongs to.

Because some strains are still sensitive, I might spray at least some of my gear with permethrin. I hate to contribute to the problem, though, since the more it's used, the more the bugs will become resistant.

I think a better way to phrase my question is, if I show up with some sort of insect net contraption, how judgey are people likely to be? Might some albergue owners forbid it? Or would everyone just live and let live?
Hotels, even high end are no guarantee to be bed bug free.
 

Levi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2015
VDLP 2016
Portuguese March 2017
Sanabres September 2017
Madrid September 2018
Well, first of all I have to say that bugs, all bugs, regard me as a delicious banquet. On my first camino I wasn't bitten by bed bugs and I came home assuring everyone that they were a myth.
However, this was to lull me into a false sense of security and since then I have suffered. I've been bitten in hotels, pensions, albergues. I've slept beside my partner and been badly bitten while he hasn't.
In warm weather, cool weather and freezing cold January. The bugs will find me.
Oh you lucky, lucky people who say you've walked twenty caminos and never been bitten or seen anyone who has been bitten...
 

danielle aird

La vie est belle
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018; September 2018; May 2019; Sept (2019)
Hi all. This is my first post, although I've been reading for awhile to get an idea of what sorts of things to think about in advance of walking the Camino. One that jumps out is the bedbug problem. Many pilgrims bring permethrin-treated sleeping bag liners, etc. But I found one thread where several people claimed that this doesn't work. I've now done enough research on my own to know that many bedbugs have developed resistance to permethrin, and so the treatment does not work if the particular bugs you encounter are resistant. The other complication is that not everyone is allergic to the bites, although repeated exposure increases the likelihood and speed of the reaction. So many people claim that they do X and haven't had a problem, but it might just be that they are being bitten but not reacting to the bites.

So my plan at this point is to make a sack out of insect netting or tulle that is big enough to get completely inside with my stuff and zipper shut. It would have some sort of plastic pop-up structure over the head, like a bivy-style tent, to keep the netting off my face. It looks like there are some bed-size pop-up mosquito-net tents being sold on amazon, although they don't fold down enough to go into a backpack.

Does the wisdom of the forum foresee any problems with this? Thanks in advance for any replies.

Jennifer
I would imagine that with all the disinfecting they have to do for covid, the little creatures don't have much chance of survival.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Personally, I've been hoping that, with nothing at all to sup on for months on end now, the bedbugs would all have starved to death and we'd have a clean slate. But I'm probably being overly optimistic.
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
I hesitated to mention this, as it may further freak people out. I never got bedbugs, but I DID come home from the Camino with scabies. Easy to get rid of with proper treatment (and not likely to spread in your house). But man, NOT comfortable before treatment.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I hesitated to mention this, as it may further freak people out. I never got bedbugs, but I DID come home from the Camino with scabies. Easy to get rid of with proper treatment (and not likely to spread in your house). But man, NOT comfortable before treatment.
OK I will admit that has freaked me out slightly. Is that common? How did you catch them, did you find out?
 

JillGat

la tierra encantada
Camino(s) past & future
C. Frances SJPP - Finisterre - Muxia (May 2016)
C. Frances (Sept 2017)
Camino Portugues (June 2019)
OK I will admit that has freaked me out slightly. Is that common? How did you catch them, did you find out?
It is NOT common to get scabies without prolonged skin to skin contact with someone who is infected, and I swear I had no intimate contact with anyone on the Camino! No idea how I managed to pick it up.

 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Prior to my second run on the Camino Frances - I thoroughly treated all relevant articles - sleeping bag, silk liner and backpack (both inside and out). I was not affected, but my "camino daughter" did get four or five bights on her legs. Apparently the products we use in Oz (and I think USA/Canada) are not available in her country. In Astorga we spent over an hour thoroughly washing just about everything (my sleeping bag could not go in a hot drier). I was able to buy a very strong insect surface spray to treat our backpacks (and my bag), plus they were left out in hot sun. Now I must say that this happened despite a careful and thorough examination of bunks and mattresses. Unfortunately the little blighters are not easily found on blankets.

What is the lesson - well: be prepared; take as much precaution as is reasonable and be prepared to move albergues if you find these bugs (note this might require an upgrade to a more expensive abode or a ten euro taxi ride). Cheers
 
Thread starter OLDER threads on this topic Forum Replies Date
Anniesantiago Bed Bugs 71
Zordmot Bed Bugs 33
P Rat Bed Bugs 4
Felice Bed Bugs 3
ValDur Bed Bugs 3

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