Bed bugs in Sweden: Ikea, used mattresses, and the spread of vägglus

by nobugsonme on March 24, 2007 · 9 comments

in bad ideas, bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, mattresses, spread of bed bugs

I dropped the CusterMap we had on the old host, which showed the geographical locations readers were coming from on a map with red dots, partly because I think there are other options to be tried out.

But when we last looked at a month of Bedbugger visitors, there were some interesting things to be seen. Most dots were in North America, with every part of the US and Canada represented. We had readers on every continent, and in most countries, from Iceland to the tiny island of Reunion.

In Europe, two cities had the largest dots: London and Sweden. I realize our readership does not just mean people either have bed bugs or a concern about them, but also that one has access to the internet and can read and write enough English to get by. (Thanks to our so-far-anonymous first Bedbugger translator, who is generous and modest, we may soon be able to help more people.). It seems entirely possible that Sweden has a lot of people who read English and have internet access, but it appears to have a lot of bed bugs as well.

Reader Tiago, in Sweden, commented in the “Tales of Woe” yesterday, mentioning the spread of bed bugs there:

Nobugs, the situation here in Sweden is getting complicated, from what I understand – my swedish is still weak but, by now, I know very well the word vägglus – swedish for bedbugs, although literally they call them “wall lice.” There is a fairly important second hand market thing here and that may help spreading them. I also understand from the commercials that IKEA takes old mattresses away as a discount on your new one – I hope they know what they’re doing!

The term “wall lice” used to be used here in the US, too.

Sweden strikes me as a country that cares about the environment. Mattress recycling is a good idea on many levels, but having the mattresses exposed in the truck to new items being delivered, and to goodness knows what else on the other end, is a very bad idea.

I think a lot of us care very much about the environment and are thus all the more horrified to find ourselves bulk-buying (and throwing out!) enormous plastic bags, having endless toxic pesticides sprayed in our homes, and slashing up and replacing furniture that would otherwise be good for years more.

There are ways to recycle mattresses and other items safely. We need governments and corporations to become aware of this need, and help solve the problem of the spread of bed bugs, while still allowing us to avoid sending everything to the landfill. (Do you know how many years it takes to disintegrate an XL ziploc bag?)

1 Bugalina March 24, 2007 at 12:06 pm

WALL LICE hem…that should send a message to PCO’s….I have heard many stories about people seeing bed bugs crawling on walls…So it would seem prudent if PCO’s fan spray the lower portions of walls…in my opinion….this would make sense…Fan spray about three feet up the wall…Also I was thinking..I wish a bio chemist could invent a spray product that when sprayed onto a mark in the skin it would turn a certain color, to indicate the presence of a bug bite chemical….similar to the sticks they sell that are rubbed onto dishes to indicate the presence of lead based glaze..I was told that biopsies cannot indicate the presence of a specific bug, only the presence of a bug substance…so why not make it easy for people….It is very difficult for me to accept the fact that our society has such advanced technology, yet a pest from the dark ages is being allowed to spread like wildfire….

2 Tiago March 25, 2007 at 12:08 pm

Hej, Bugalina.

Your idea about the “bed bug bite test” is something that has occupied my mind for some time (I got the hint about “a biochemist”…). Unfortunately, I still haven’t managed to come up with a solution. Then again, I’m not an MD or enthomologist, so there are a couple of things that I really don’t know.
To all you experts and entrepreneurs out there – here’s a chance to be helpful, as well as a business oportunity at the same time, I’d say!
BTW, thanks for the tip about the painters brush. I still need to practice but it works better than with the toothbrush.

All the best

3 Bugalina March 25, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Tiago…The Hand Bellows is the best tool for dispersing DE, but someone recently mentioned a poultry baster..I think that it is a very good suggestion…..Tiago…thank you for acknowledging the idea of a product that can be applied, topically, that will identify the presence of a bug bite substance……it would be so helpful….we have flat screen tvs and Ipods and GPS systems…but no one is giving up a kill for a blood sucking bug…Its so INSANE !!!!! Bugalina

4 K August 21, 2008 at 5:37 pm

In July 2008 my family and I stayed at Fridhemsplan Hostel in Stockholm Sweden. We were bitten from head to toe by bed bugs (vägglus).
Please readers know that the bed bugs spread easily from luggage to luggage, back packs to back packs and then taken back home. Check out the motel room for signs of bed bugs before you stay in the room. Bed bugs will spread quickly unless eradicated.

5 nobugsonme August 22, 2008 at 12:27 am


Good advice. Readers may wish to read our FAQ on avoiding bed bugs when you travel:

6 clare scott October 8, 2008 at 5:34 pm

last week two new Ikea beds for my twin boys where delivered, both are now smothered in a rash which they are scratching till it bleeds. Tonight i took the boys up to bed and was told “mummy my bed has ants”, i could not believe my eyes there where hundreds of minute bugs crawling over the cream enamel paint! s i pulled the sheets back they where crawling over the matress and slats but much fewer in number, is there a link between ikea and bed bugs, i an new to this and from looking on line at bed bug bites i think this is the cause of the rash,

7 nobugsonme October 8, 2008 at 6:31 pm


ANY delivery truck which is also used to remove used items from people’s homes, or for moving, may have bed bugs. (Many stores hire contractors who use their trucks for more than one purpose; many mattress companies deliver new items AND accept used mattresses to be carted off, a very bad practice.)

In addition, warehouses that receive back merchandise may have accepted returns from an infested home. You need to talk to the store and they need to investigate the truck.

Get a professional in right away to diagnose the problem. Do not try to self treat and do not move the mattress/bed without PCO advice.

8 Tia October 22, 2008 at 7:37 pm

I have been dealing with bedbugs since June 08′ and I thought that it was due to the neighbors and my apartment complex confirmed that my neighbors also have them but today I was talking with someone and they mentioned that it may have started from my Ikea nightstands because her friend had bedbugs and they were from her ikea bed. I’m not sure how true this is but it seems about right because when I do get bit, its mostly on my arms and hands then face. And although I bought the allergian sheets and cases, I still get bit and the exterminator says that my nightstands had not been treated.

9 nobugsonme October 22, 2008 at 8:26 pm

Tia, I can’t comment on your or your friend’s experience with this brand except to say that any potential new furniture or mattress purchase may bring bed bugs if the furniture came from a warehouse that accepts returns and stores them with new items, OR if the delivery came in a truck that also is used to cart away used mattresses or is used as a moving truck.

I am not sure if those things are true of the beds you describe.

Many furniture deliveries are done by contractors who may use trucks also used for moving; many furniture companies offer to drive off with your used mattress. Both are ways bed bugs may be spread to a new item before it comes to you.

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