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¨I am human bedbug bait¨ article in the Guardian

3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Well, that's definitely a rather unusual occupation! Certainly not something for everybody.
Respect for the lady concerned, going from 'grossed out by' to 'fascinated in' our little 'friends'.
And I cannot think of anybody I know that actually gets paid to sleep on the job!
 
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Geesh I should apply! I seem to be very attractive to the little critters - and my husband sleeping right next to me - not! But recently on the Primitivo, I got one bite, we did the usual sitting in a laundromat cooking everything for hours then two days later one little critter ran out of the top pouch of my husband's pack!!!!!! Who know's whose blood ended up on our Tao de Ching that we were reading daily on the journey, but that guy got transformed and we found no others, no eggs, no larvae etc!!! And we cooked everything again and then froze everything too! Couldn't find any spray as it was all sold out!
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
Geesh I should apply! I seem to be very attractive to the little critters - and my husband sleeping right next to me - not! But recently on the Primitivo, I got one bite, we did the usual sitting in a laundromat cooking everything for hours then two days later one little critter ran out of the top pouch of my husband's pack!!!!!! Who know's whose blood ended up on our Tao de Ching that we were reading daily on the journey, but that guy got transformed and we found no others, no eggs, no larvae etc!!! And we cooked everything again and then froze everything too! Couldn't find any spray as it was all sold out!
I do wonder if the attraction versus lack of attraction for two people sleeping next to each other might not be related to the blood type preference for mosquitos and other blood consuming insects?

For example, my AB+ blood is repulsive to mosquitoes. When I am out with others, they get bit. I do not. I have not yet been challenged by bedbugs in my six Caminos.

Given Canadian Barb's description of the bedbugs preference for her, versus her husband, she must be doing something to attract them, like using scented toiletries of moisturizing creams. Absent that, I still proffer the blood type preference hypothesis.

Anyone got ideas, or links to scientific research on this.

This said, try washing in the evening with a lavender scented soap, hair and body. Bedbugs do not like lavender.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
I do wonder if the attraction versus lack of attraction for two people sleeping next to each other might not be related to the blood type preference for mosquitos and other blood consuming insects?
Either that, or he is being bitten, but because he’s not even remotely allergic, the bites simply don’t register.
 
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Has anyone used oral antihistamines, like Cetirizine, to address the bites? Just curious.
I normally react to insect bites terribly even when taking antihistamines, and I'm normally very similar to my sister healthwise.
She lived in Kuala Lumpur for a while, and was bitten by bedbugs in hotels there, and reacted terribly, needing medical treatment for the bites. They left scars.
I was bitten by bedbugs for the first time in Spain, and the bites were annoying, red and itchy but no worse than that. I take antihistmines daily for other reasons.
So I think Cetrizine does probably help. I've been bitten twice now on Camino, and the reactions havent been too severe. I would of course prefer not to be bitten.
 
My husband takes daily medication for his nasal allergies (both oral and nose spray) and it seems like he never reacts to bites from mosquitoes, etc. Fingers crossed that we've not encountered bed bugs where we have stayed, but who knows since he does not seem to react to other bites.
 
I do wonder if the attraction versus lack of attraction for two people sleeping next to each other might not be related to the blood type preference for mosquitos and other blood consuming insects?

For example, my AB+ blood is repulsive to mosquitoes. When I am out with others, they get bit. I do not. I have not yet been challenged by bedbugs in my six Caminos.

Given Canadian Barb's description of the bedbugs preference for her, versus her husband, she must be doing something to attract them, like using scented toiletries of moisturizing creams. Absent that, I still proffer the blood type preference hypothesis.

Anyone got ideas, or links to scientific research on this.

This said, try washing in the evening with a lavender scented soap, hair and body. Bedbugs do not like lavender.

Hope this helps.

Tom
Our blood and bodies are much more complicated than simple blood types. We are all unique in our genetic makep and how those genes are expressed. I do not use lotions or creams on the Camino, just keep clean with the same basic nonscented shampoo that my husband uses. Probably I have other attractive pheremones for the bed bugs. and I choose not to use scented products like lavender even though I like them at home out of respect for scent sensitivity of others also on the journey.
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
Thanks for the explanation. Absent a quick solution, it would appear that the bedbugs are attracted to your personal pheremones. Thank you for being scent sensitive towards other pilgrims.

Tom
 
Absent a quick solution, it would appear that the bedbugs are attracted to your personal pheremones.
I thought it was the carbon dioxide in one's exhaled breath and body heat that attracted them. Neither of these we can avoid. It might be that they are attracted to other things. There are good reasons for not using scents, perfumes and scented products in any case, so it may not hurt to avoid adding to the things that will attract them.
 
Does anyone have experience in using Permethrin on their gear (particularly Sleeping Bags) in the Camino? Does it work to repel the critters?
 
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Does anyone have experience in using Permethrin on their gear (particularly Sleeping Bags) in the Camino? Does it work to repel the critters?
No, it does not repel them and it takes a long time to kill them. They will likely die though before the following night.
There used to be a time lapse video of how long it takes to kill bedbugs with permethrin posted here, but I can't find it now. Maybe one if the mods can find it.
 
Does anyone have experience in using Permethrin on their gear (particularly Sleeping Bags) in the Camino? Does it work to repel the critters?
Yes. No. Permethrin is an insecticide, not an insect repellent.

You will find plenty of discussion about this on the forum if you care to search. Its a topic that gets well aired most years as new forum members debate whether to treat their gear with permethrin.
 
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Does anyone have experience in using Permethrin on their gear (particularly Sleeping Bags) in the Camino? Does it work to repel the critters?
As @dougfitz and @J Willhaus said, it's not a repellant. Nor does it kill them on contact. But since it does appear to kill them over time with prolonged contact I treat my sleep gear (excluding my pillowcase), the inside of my backpack, and all my cloth stuff sacks. If a bed bug gets into my backpack I want it to have maximum exposure!
 
No, it does not repel them and it takes a long time to kill them. They will likely die though before the following night.
There used to be a time lapse video of how long it takes to kill bedbugs with permethrin posted here, but I can't find it now. Maybe one if the mods can find it.
That is misleading. Only one sub-species is known to have developed resistance. The others haven't and will die much faster. The particular video is even more misleading, in my view. View it with caution and ask yourself if enough information about the nature of the 'demonstration' was provided. I clearly don't think so.

More, there are studies that show that even if they do not die shortly after exposure, the action of permethrin on the bedbug is such that they are deterred from going on to consume a blood meal. The widely repeated assertion that they survive to go on and bite you is challenged by the science on this point.

Edit: the video was produced by JTD International LLC. Their Bloomberg listing notes they are manufacturers of house furnishings, such as blankets, bedspreads, sheets, table clothes, towels, and shower curtains. While that doesn't preclude them from having appropriately qualified researchers, it isn't clear to me that video wasn't produced for anything but product promotional purposes. For a start, ask yourself how often you see the timer at the same time as you see the bedbugs in their death throes. Never! Are there credits with the credentials of the testers who conducted the test? No. Is the test laboratory identified? No! So none of the transparency measures that might give one confidence in the authenticity of this video and the results it purports to show are there. It cannot be trusted.
 
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That is misleading. Only one sub-species is known to have developed resistance. The others haven't and will die much faster. The particular video is even more misleading, in my view. View it with caution and ask yourself if enough information about the nature of the 'demonstration' was provided. I clearly don't think so.

More, there are studies that show that even if they do not die shortly after exposure, the action of permethrin on the bedbug is such that they are deterred from going on to consume a blood meal. The widely repeated assertion that they survive to go on and bite you is challenged by the science on this point.
The point is, that permethrin doesn't repel nor kill on contact. Whether it takes 3 minutes or 3 hours to kill or disable them is certainly up for debate, but for me, using permethrin is a bit of an "insurance policy" against carrying them to the next albergue or home. Note that I'm not saying that it's guaranteed that they will die.

It's definitely good news that permethrin can affect them sufficiently to deter them from biting you. But I have been bitten while inside a permethrin treated silk sleep sack.
 
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Does anyone have experience in using Permethrin on their gear (particularly Sleeping Bags) in the Camino? Does it work to repel the critters?
No, nor is it intended to: it is an insecticide intended to kill them. Although its effectiveness as an insecticide has been called into question, Permethrin seems to be quite effective at preventing the transfer of bedbugs from one property to another (e.g. the next albergue, or your home). But if you suspect you are carrying bedbugs, then heat, 50Cº for fifty minutes, is the usual prescribed method of disposal, preferably in a tumble dryer or failing that a black plastic bag left out in the sun all afternoon in summer.

The other point to remember is that Permethrin is applied to your sleeping bag, clothes etc, not your body. If your arm, neck, foot or other body parts are exposed, then you will get bitten Permethrin or no Permethrin.

The jury is still out on whether DEET repels bedbugs. One view is that whereas mosquitoes will fly off and find a DEET free body to bite, bedbugs can only crawl and will put up with the taste of DEET for the sake of a meal.
 
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It's definitely good news that permethrin can affect them sufficiently to deter them from biting you. But I have been bitten while inside a permethrin treated silk sleep sack.
I didn't suggest that treatment created an impenetrable barrier. I always sleep with my face exposed. In tossing and turning I may also expose my arms and shoulders, and I suspect that I might have been bitten as a result some many years ago. I am more careful now to keep as much of my body as I can covered by my liner.

It is also why I treat a liner rather than my sleeping bag. There are times when it gets too warm to want to use a sleeping bag, and if that is what has been treated, and you don't use it, you won't have any protection. In my view, it is a better option to treat a liner if you are keen on taking treated sleeping gear.
 
I didn't suggest that treatment created an impenetrable barrier. I always sleep with my face exposed. In tossing and turning I may also expose my arms and shoulders, and I suspect that I might have been bitten as a result some many years ago. I am more careful now to keep as much of my body as I can covered by my liner.
I was bit on my thigh, which most definitely was inside my sleep sack.
I know that it was bedbug bites because I had been awakened in the dorm by the woman in the bunk above me who had found the little critters on her bed. And the bites were three in a row, typical of bedbugs.
 
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In my view, it is a better option to treat a liner if you are keen on taking treated sleeping gear.
Why not both?
For back country hikes I always used to treat the outside of my socks, cuffs of my pants, inside of my pack - pretty much everything except the clothes that are going against my body. Bed bugs weren't an issue but ticks and leeches are and permethrin is effective against both. It only lasts for about six washes but when you're back country you're not doing a hell of a lot of that anyway.
Mind you after a week it might have simply been the smell that repelled them.... .
 
Why not both?
One could, but if you only treat one, I think it should be the sleeping bag liner. It is more likely to be used all the time, such as when it is too warm to contemplate using a sleeping bag, even as a quilt.
For back country hikes I always used to treat the outside of my socks, cuffs of my pants, inside of my pack - pretty much everything except the clothes that are going against my body. Bed bugs weren't an issue but ticks and leeches are and permethrin is effective against both. It only lasts for about six washes but when you're back country you're not doing a hell of a lot of that anyway.
A couple of points. Treating clothing is always going to be a good option for insects that are active during the day time when you are wearing it. Is sounds like you were using a spray on treatment, which seems to wash out more quickly than wash-in treatments, but as you say, that probably isn't going to make a lot of difference if one isn't washing clothing regularly. If one were washing every other day, as one might on the Camino, my preference would be to do a wash-in treatment before I left home. It appears that would be effective for a month, perhaps up to six months depending on how well the directions were followed.

But on the camino, ticks and mosquitos are not an issue so far as I am aware, and I wouldn't be treating clothing in that circumstance. And I didn't see any leeches on my pilgrimage walks, although I have seen enough elsewhere in my travels, but I suspect permethrin won't help deter them.
Mind you after a week it might have simply been the smell that repelled them.... .
It's always a possibility that you would be mistaken for a corpse, and not a useful source of a nice fresh blood meal!
 
An aside here to be careful when using insecticides. Follow the directions carefully. One of our pilgrims used an insecticides meant for premises on his clothes and person and he ended up in the hospital with a neurological poisoning issue. Insecticides are different than insect repellent. Repellents are largely ineffective on bedbugs.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
But on the camino, ticks and mosquitos are not an issue so far as I am aware, and I wouldn't be treating clothing in that circumstance. And I didn't see any leeches on my pilgrimage walks, although I have seen enough elsewhere in my travels, but I suspect permethrin won't help deter them.
Doug, ticks are very much an issue in Spain. On the more frequented caminos because the tracks are so wide I doubt they would be much of an issue, however on the less frequented caminos very much so.
And yes permethrin is a repellent for leeches, although Deet is better. I learnt that in Australia!
 
And I didn't see any leeches on my pilgrimage walks, although I have seen enough elsewhere in my travels,
I think that the leech species found in Spain are similar to those in the UK. Our leeches mostly remain submerged in permanent bodies of water waiting for potential food sources to appear rather than go wandering around in damp vegetation in a proactive search for prey.

PS: While major renovation work is being done on my house I am living in a friend's house about 2km from a facility which breeds and supplies about 70% of all medicinal leeches used worldwide. There is still a demand for them in human and veterinary surgery. Apparently also used in research to develop treatments for osteoarthritis which might be very handy for me personally in time but sadly does not go far enough in overcoming my revulsion at the little buggers!
 
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Doug, ticks are very much an issue in Spain. On the more frequented caminos because the tracks are so wide I doubt they would be much of an issue, however on the less frequented caminos very much so.
And yes permethrin is a repellent for leeches, although Deet is better. I learnt that in Australia!
I've seen references in hiking literature to using DEET to deter leeches, but never with an explanation of why. Permethrin is, I understand, toxic to aquatic animals, so there might also be a repellent effect, but I admit that your comment is the first time I have heard of it being used as a repellent for leeches. I would be interested if you know of reference sources for this.
 
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I've seen references in hiking literature to using DEET to deter leeches, but never with an explanation of why. Permethrin is, I understand, toxic to aquatic animals, so there might also be a repellent effect, but I admit that your comment is the first time I have heard of it being used as a repellent for leeches. I would be interested if you know of reference sources for this.
Sorry no, I don't know a reference. I was advised by an old Aussie bushman when I was in the Daintree and running low on my deet to just spray on some permethrin that a mate of mine had with him. I used it another couple of times it different places in Oz and had no leeches. That of course is not proof positive!
Apparently it's bitter and they don't like it.
 
Doug, perhaps this has some bearing? Wikipedia says : "Permethrin is listed as a "restricted use" substance by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)[52] due to its high toxicity to aquatic organisms,"

Edit: sorry, that's exactly what you said

You made me curious! In a quick Google search I've come across multiple people citing its use as a deterrence against leeches, however no official source material. To be fair, judging on past results that's your area of expertise - it sure isn't mine!
 
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I think that, given the pros and cons of using insecticides on my skin, or adjacent to it, I would opt to either: (A) use a natural - perhaps homemade repellent - that can be sprayed on my things, (B) Bathe in scented soaps that have a scent the bedbugs are known not to lime - lavender for example, and/OR (C) take antihistamines and tough it out.

While I have not been bothered in six Caminos since 2013, I realize there is always a first time. During the interregnum caused by my being a caregiver for my critically ill wife, I have been doing research on concentrated solutions I can make at home, carry on the plane in a 3 oz / 100 ml or less bottle, and then dilute using commonly available rubbing alcohol, in a small sprayer bottle on arrival in Spain, France or Portugal.

This seems to be a valid approach. Pre-treat my sleeping bag, and if staying in a hostal that supplies bedding, spray the sheets blankets, etc. before I plan to turn in for the night.

Just thinking out loud.

Tom
 
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if staying in a hostal that supplies bedding, spray the sheets blankets, etc. before I plan to turn in for the night.
Please don't spray anything on the bedding supplied by a hostal, especially blankets that are not washed after every use. Other people will be using them after you and they may react badly. Heavy perfumes - even "natural" ones - can be sickening to others.
 
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I have a homemade solution that i bring in a small bottle (max 3 oz / 100 ml) then mix with water on arrival. I carry a small, empty spray bottle of six ounces (178 ml), that used to have eyeglass cleaning solution in it.

I have only used it on one Camino and whilst traveling domestically. No problems so far. The ingredients are 10-20 drops each - using a old medication eye dropper:

Tea Tree Oil
Peppermint OIl
Lavender Oil
Eucalyptus Oil
Cinnamon Oil

Note: Adjust the scent formula, above, to get something you can tolerate. I find that reducing the tea tree oil and peppermint oil, while increasing the lavender works well for me.

I make about 1.5 oz of this concentrated solution, then "cut it" with an equal amount of witch hazel in the three oz bottle. The three ounce bottle, when diluted with water in the 6 ounce pump spray bottle, lasts quite a while - especially if I only use it on the washable bed linens.

It is the scent that repels bedbugs. It is not a contact killer. I researched this to be an all purpose, broad scent repellent. It seems to work. Any of the component scents, like lavender oil, are believed to work well on their own. I used Google prodigiously.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
There used to be an excellent interview in one of Dave Whitson's Camino podcasts posted here on the forum with an entomologist (bed bug) researcher. (I can't find it now.) He indicated that fragrances don't dissuade bedbugs. Some pilgrims are quite sensitive to fragrances so I would avoid using them in a bunk room environment.
 
I have a homemade solution that i bring in a small bottle (max 3 oz / 100 ml) then mix with water on arrival. I carry a small, empty spray bottle of six ounces (178 ml), that used to have eyeglass cleaning solution in it.

I have only used it on one Camino and whilst traveling domestically. No problems so far. The ingredients are 10-20 drops each - using a old medication eye dropper:

Tea Tree Oil
Peppermint OIl
Lavender Oil
Eucalyptus Oil
Cinnamon Oil

Note: Adjust the scent formula, above, to get something you can tolerate. I find that reducing the tea tree oil and peppermint oil, while increasing the lavender works well for me.

I make about 1.5 oz of this concentrated solution, then "cut it" with an equal amount of witch hazel in the three oz bottle. The three ounce bottle, when diluted with water in the 6 ounce pump spray bottle, lasts quite a while - especially if I only use it on the washable bed linens.

It is the scent that repels bedbugs. It is not a contact killer. I researched this to be an all purpose, broad scent repellent. It seems to work. Any of the component scents, like lavender oil, are believed to work well on their own. I used Google prodigiously.

Hope this helps.

Tom
Just a comment that I have a friend with pretty severe (although not life threatening) allergic reactions to lavender scents. She's a professor and if a lavender scented student enters the room she's home for a week. I suspect that if she were in the next bunk to yours, that would be the end of her Camino, unless she had the foresight to plan a week's padding to her schedule for recovery.
 
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For what it is worth, I rarely stay in albergues. My preference is a hostal or small casa rural, where the bed linens are changed with each new guest. I would never use this repellent spray in a shared space. I never have.
That might sound laudable, but I wonder whether the spray penetrates the bed linen and wets any mattress or mattress protector, etc underneath it. That would leave a legacy for subsequent occupants and the owners. Unintended, perhaps, but real nonetheless.
 
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It is the scent that repels bedbugs. It is not a contact killer. I researched this to be an all purpose, broad scent repellent. It seems to work. Any of the component scents, like lavender oil, are believed to work well on their own. I used Google prodigiously.
Can you provide an actual link or reference to any authoritative research that supports this theory?
 

Perfume and Fragrances​

Surprisingly, bed bugs are fond of scents produced by many perfumes and fragrances. Bed bugs have a highly developed sense of smell and can detect various odors. Perfumes and fragrances can be particularly attractive to bed bugs, as they often contain a blend of natural and synthetic compounds that bed bugs find appealing.

To reduce the risk of attracting bed bugs with perfume and fragrances, it is vital to use them sparingly, mainly if you live in an area with a high risk of bed bug infestations. Avoiding wearing perfumes or fragrances to bed is also a good idea, as this can increase the risk of attracting bed bugs to your sleeping area.

Not from a peer-reviewed source, but nonetheless worth thinking about.

 
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Can you provide an actual link or reference to any authoritative research that supports this theory?
Nope. My research occurred some time ago, and over multiple sources. I cannot reconstruct the exact list of sources. I did not save any of it as I was researching for personal use, not editorial attribution. I am long past footnoting -

However, if I do a Google search for "bedbug repellant" with the AI switch turned on, the results nearly approximate what I constructed the old fashioned way.

All I can suggest is that you try it yourself.

Hope this helps.

Tom
 
I requested, and to avoid controversy, I will happily delete my post containing my personal repellent formula. Just ask politely.
 

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