• Sweden's news in English

Stockholm hit by bed bug invasion

Rebecca Martin · 4 Oct 2011, 12:34

Published: 04 Oct 2011 12:34 GMT+02:00

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”There has certainly been a dramatic rise in cases over the last few years,” Sven Jeppson of Anticimex told The Local.

In 2006 Anticimex were called out to deal with 317 cases of bed bugs. So far in 2011, the company has been called out 2,951 times, equating to a rise of 830 percent.

21-year-old student Robin Lycke had suffered from itching skin for a while before he realised his student digs were infected.

”First I thought it was some sort of allergy, and the doctor gave me some stuff to put on it, but then when I came back after my holidays I noticed little bugs in my bed,” Lycke told The Local.

The bugs were tiny, and resembled linseeds, but they were moving around. Lycke started searching on the internet to work out what it was he was dealing with. It dawned on him that the answer was bed bugs.

”That's when I panicked. I didn't know what to do, but I had no other choice than to live on as normal until it was sorted out,” said Lycke, adding that the landlord suspected the bugs came from the previous tenant.

In the end the situation got so bad that he actually saw the bugs during the day.

”They were crawling around everywhere in the flat, even in the bathroom,” he said.

Lycke was reimbursed the money he had spent on doctors appointments and a short stay in a local hostel by his landlord, but he had no other choice but to live in the flat, to act as bait for the bugs, otherwise they would hibernate and Anticimex would not be able to get rid of them.

It took the pest control agency two attempts during a period a total of ten weeks before the bugs were gone completely.

According to Anticimex, the rise in bed bug infestations is likely due to Swedes travelling more, but also that more tourists come to Sweden.

”When we travel we stay in hotels and in hostels and these bugs live there with us, in the floors, the beds and the walls, feeding on our blood,” Jeppson said.

He added that the increase is not just seen in Sweden but all over Europe and the US.

”There seem to be more hardy strains around. Many have grown more resistant after having been exposed to a small amount of pesticide. Sometimes it is easy to get rid of them and sometimes it is nearly impossible,” Jeppson said.

Story continues below…

He added that it isn't always easy for the individual to know that they are dealing with bed bugs.

”Some people get great big blotches from the bites whereas others don't notice them at all but find blood on the sheets of the bed,” said Jeppson.

To try to avoid the pests, travellers should avoid keeping their luggage near their hotel beds and all clothes should be shaken and put straight in a hot wash upon return home.

If suspecting an infestation it is also important to contact a reputable pest control firm, Jeppson added.

"Whatever they do, people shouldn't go out and buy pesticide and try to deal with it themselves," Jeppson said to The Local.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:53 October 4, 2011 by Grokh
This is the kind of outbreak that governments should focus on erradicating.
13:01 October 4, 2011 by jacquelinee
Sorry to hear that this is becoming a problem in Sweden too. Apparently these nasty little creatures have are developing a resistence to the pesticides. It has become a very big problem in north america in recent years. Even 5 star hotels have not been exempt from these unwanted guests. I remember last year when the report came out that they had been found on a passenger train in Sweden. I was hoping they had not spread. The problem with them, is that they are so small and flat they can even get into the creases of wallpaper joins and hide. Bad news too.....they can survive for months without feeding, so vacating to "starve" them out just does not work. They have nothing to do with a "dirty" environment, they just are really good at hiding, travelling and have a great resistance against the usual common insect sprays.

I sure hope they can keep these nasty little pests in check.
14:02 October 4, 2011 by fahimfmr
i had them too and i read somewhere they die when the temperature is really low i opened all the windows and stopped the heater in my home last winter. when the temperature was -15 Celsius and then when i came back home the day after they went completely.... I just hope they don't come back this time
14:36 October 4, 2011 by Opinionfool
"the increase is not just seen in Sweden but all over Europe"

I can atest to that. Earlier this year I was on a business trip to Paris and my associates and I stayed in a (supposed) 3-star hotel near to Gare de Nord. Cheap, seemingly clean and close by where our meetings were to take place. However, my female colleagues complained about an infestation of bedbugs in their rooms. There did not appear to be any in mine, thankfully.
14:39 October 4, 2011 by Great Scott
Isn't there are a lot of parasites living in Stockholm.
14:49 October 4, 2011 by JulieLou40
No, you're thinking of Malmö ;-)
15:35 October 4, 2011 by jacquelinee
I have seen a lot of "parasiter" all over Sweden at the system bolaget on welfare day. I guess when they are spread out across the whole nation there doesn't seem like as many as when they are segregated into a few cramped areas. Very convienient. Men, det är ok om de ar svenska parasiter. Eller?
19:40 October 4, 2011 by Scansson
Could this possibly be due to the mass influx of middle-eastern and somali immigrants?

Perhaps the migration board can include health checks while they're also doing criminal background investigations...

Oh, I forgot, Sweden just opens the doors, with no questions, they wouldn't want to offend anyone, no thanks to "PC" : )
20:37 October 4, 2011 by Grokh
its funny because if someone wants to bring their dog from another country into Sweden there's this whole period of quarantine but when it comes to people sleeping around in hotels or even immigrants ,there's no precautions ...?!

so far they only cause itch but if the spread continues on a global scale whos to say they wont develop diseases and then outbreaks....

i guess i start sounding paranoid but the logical thing to do would be to deal with this pest problem before it becames a real problem.
00:14 October 5, 2011 by esvahnt
stockolm has been invaded by parasites for some years allready

the government should implement a strong measures to push them out , but not much has been done yet

i think they may get imposible to oust
08:26 October 5, 2011 by Ameise
The increase is worldwide, and THE solution doesn´t exist, nor can it be political.

More resistance is a good bad excuse for less success. Bedbugs were worldwide forgotten. Even pest controllers need to re-learn first.

Treatment is a lot more than a chemical or other technique. It includes prevention, monitoring, repellents, anti bed bug sheets, heat, dryness, cold, monitoring, and more, depending on situation, location e.g..

Travelers can learn to protect their body, luggage, and property.
08:38 October 5, 2011 by asee
bed bugs can survive in extreme cold weather unlike hot weather. That is why europe has this problem. people come from asian and middle eastern country are less likely to have these bugs comparatively people come from European countries...

48 C(120F) kills bed bugs instantly..and according to research bed bugs can survive on -15 C(5F) for hours and on 0 C(32F) for days...

09:07 October 5, 2011 by Ameise

Bed bugs run and multiply faster in warm environments. The bed bug´s life is thus shorter in hot weather - or heated appartments, but more efficient.

AND they survive in the cold.
21:32 October 6, 2011 by Dave N
I think it's hilarious that the article blames the bed bugs on Swedes travelling abroad and tourists when everybody knows that they, like TB, have been re-introduced to Europe largely by mass immigration from the 3rd World.
19:12 October 7, 2011 by tadchem
DDT works wonders to eliminate insect and related pests. It totally eliminated Yellow Fever and Malaria in North America, and it never harmed anyone. We even got sprayed directly with it! Eliminating DDT from the pest control arsenal has done far more harm than good. Bring it back! It will stop the bedbug invasion!
04:17 October 8, 2011 by DOZ
Bedbugs are a Social Disease that can't be irradicated by Chemical means only. Bedbugs are a result of runaway capitalism.
12:06 October 11, 2011 by Darryl
I agree with a previous poster bring back DDT. I have been sprayed with it in third world countries and it has never harmed me.
00:55 October 13, 2011 by rumcajs
@ jacquelinee, esvahnt and Scansson,

You guys seem to be a bit nuts. What ever the topic is, you bring the same old horse in the same old race. Do you know what those people are usefull for? For people with awfully low self confidence like yourselves to be able to live. Deep inside you think ( or know ) than you are such a bunch of nothing than the only thing that keeps you alive is the idea that there's some1 in a lower level in that crazy gerargic scale you've got in your heads.

@Dave N,

I was living 20 years in a 3rd world country and had a looot of tropical viruses but never... I mean NEVER saw a bed bug. The 1st time I knew the even existed was in UK.
16:26 October 21, 2011 by deaninsweden
Get a hoover with steam, suck those buggers up!
18:04 October 24, 2011 by dougwinstone
I had a terrible experience with bedbugs in London a few years ago, in fact the exterminator say it was the worst infestation he had ever seen.

But in Sweden?? On the face of it you'd think it's too damn COLD but when you remember that everyone's house is nice and warm and all the beds are made of wood then things make a bit more sense!

With the number of folk travelling to the US, especially Washington and NY but not forgetting the UK and Asia it was bound to get bad sooner than later.

My simple advice from what I learnt from a bad experience is:

1. Whenever you stay somewhere new like a hotel check the fabric and cracks under and on the side of the bed or bedside table, another telltale sign is blood on matresses and matress covers, if they are there you'll see them and ask to see another room.

2. Metal framed beds are safer because the blighters can't climb up metal- simple! The English learnt this hundreds of years ago but cheap furniture brought them back.

3. If you suspect you slept somewhere with bedbugs then wash, dry clean, freeze, microwave, wipe with soapy water everything you had with you when you stayed there. Their eggs are harder to see and they can lay a lot in someone's clothes in one night!

4. Don't think the problem will go away on it's own, if you see them in your home deal with it straight away.

5 Vaccum your home regularly but that goes without say, right?

6. Bedbugs will travel up to 30m per night to find a meal and can last months without food!

7. They like warmth, so skirting boards, warderobes and bedside tables near radiators, cracks in beds and the underside of matresses are the best places to look as they are nice and warm.

7 i. On a similar note, not making your bed in the morning allows your matress to cool more quickly and thus discourage them from invading your room when you're not there!

Don't use DDT, yes it's harmless to humans and effective on bugs but it's unbelievably harmful to the environment. Other pesticldes or good old fashoned "elbow grease" will do the job and it's far more satisfying.

From catching them I learnt that they don't like the deep freezer or extreme heat, so there are a few good suggestions above, steam hoover and a few days and nights of extreme Swedish winter cold (the colder the better!) might do the trick.

I was in a flat in London, I woke up in the middle of the night with them all over my face and body- I had maybe 200 bites, they didn't hurt or get infected but they had a big psychological impact on me. Work told me not to come in till I had sorted it out as they didn't want to risk the eggs spreading to other people at work.

Last thing, they are 4mm-7mm in size which is bigger than most people think- when fed they could look similar to a ladybird without wings (and spots) but they are flat if they haven't eaten.

Good luck :)
18:32 September 11, 2012 by DiegoP

Best answer ever!

I come from Latin America and never even heard of them or even heard anyone else having problems with this. Maybe dogs but never humans.

So, they should try and blame something else this time!
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