Bed Bugs and Fleas

Missionaries in various parts of the world may find themselves sleeping on mattresses with fleas or other bugs such as scabies.  Fleas and other insects that bite humans are everywhere.  Often, these bites are only irritating, but at times the insect can spread disease. While most of the problems occur in certain parts of the world, bites can occur anywhere. 


Permethrin was developed from a natural compound named pyrethrin, originally found in a flower.  Permethrin is an odorless insecticide that can be sprayed on clothing and bedding. As a cream, it can also be applied to the skin. Permethrin prevents and treats insect-born infestations such as head lice and scabies. It can also be used to kill ticks and mosquitos.


Bed fleas are a huge problem in some missions.  Fleas live in the mattresses and will bite the missionary as he or she sleeps. The main symptom of lice or fleas is itching.  Soaking bedding in permethrin prevents bugs from biting, and one application to your bedding can last upwards of 3 or more months.


Currently, commercial airlines will not ship permethrin in personal luggage when leaving the MTC in Provo, Utah.  The Church complies with this and asks that permethrin not be carried in luggage by missionaries as they leave that facility.  If permethrin is not sold in travel or outdoor stores in your mission, ask the mission office or your parents to check to see if it may be shipped to your country via a secondary carrier such as DHL, FedEx, or UPS. This is usually the case.  It can be carried in luggage from home if you are traveling directly to your mission.  Additionally, a missionary can soak clothing and bedding before he or she leaves or have it treated and shipped while serving in the mission field.

Permethrin is available at most outdoor retailer stores.