Students bugged to discover cockroaches in dormitories

When Brett Edkins ’06 decided to become a freshman counselor for Pierson College, he likely expected to move into a dorm that showed all the signs of typical freshman year commotion — loud music coming from downstairs, some extremely messy rooms, and the occasional party gone awry. He did not, however, expect to find another type of pest: cockroaches.

Students have been noticing cockroaches in dorms all over campus since the beginning of the academic year, and their presence is particularly strong in Lanman-Wright Hall, home of the Pierson and Saybrook college freshmen. The roaches have been found in bedrooms, bathrooms and entryway halls.

“They’re on various floors of all entryways [of Lanman-Wright],” Edkins said. “When I asked a group of Pierson freshmen, ‘Who’s seen cockroaches?’ a whole bunch of people raised their hands.”

Cockroaches have also been sighted in the Yale post office, which is located in the basement of Lanman-Wright.

“As I was walking down the hall [in the post office] I saw a huge cockroach this big,” said M-R Padmore ’08 as she held up her thumb and pointer finger, indicating a length of approximately two inches. “Then I screamed. I was surprised that no one cared when I freaked out.”

Kersten Stevens ’06, a freshman counselor for Saybrook, has received complaints about cockroaches from her freshmen. She has also seen one outside her room in entryway C and in the bathroom of entryway B of Lanman-Wright.

“It’s an unfixable problem,” she said. “People don’t treat the dorms like their own homes and they create a big mess, leaving food, so then the cockroaches come.”

Edkins said he contacted the building supervisor on Tuesday, but so far no one has come to exterminate the roaches.

“You need to really hound them to get them to come,” he said.

Pierson College Dean Amerigo Fabbri also said he has been in touch with the custodial services of Old Campus.

“I have no first-hand evidence, but I’ve heard students complaining,” Fabbri said. “The supervisor of the building has been alerted. I don’t know if they’ve taken action yet, but if they haven’t, they will soon.”

Robert Young, director of custodial services, said custodians respond to any report of pests on campus. Michael Roberts, team leader of Old Campus custodial services, could not be contacted for comment Thursday evening.

In addition to Lanman-Wright, sightings of cockroaches have occurred in other campus buildings, including Silliman College, Davenport College and Bingham Hall.

Denise Levitan ’06, a student in Silliman, said she received an e-mail from the custodial supervisor saying there were cockroaches in the building. The bathroom and hall of her entryway were sprayed, which caused the cockroaches to leave the walls before dying, she said.

“I hear a noise from the wall, and there’s this giant bug on my poster,” Levitan said. “It landed on my shoulder … They’re gross.”

She and her suitemate said they think they spotted several roaches in their suite. In order to avoid the cockroaches, Levitan said she spent two nights in her friends’ suite in Branford College, and her suitemate stayed over with her boyfriend.

Jenny Reisner ’07 discovered there was a cockroach in her Davenport College suite when she heard her suitemate screaming her name from the room next door. After a short chase, she successfully smashed it with a notebook.

“Next time I see one, I’ll just cut off its head and watch it move around,” she jokingly said, upon hearing that roaches can live for a period without their heads.

While students may find the roaches to be disgusting, they do not pose a significant health threat, said arthropod expert and ecology and evolutionary biology professor Marta Martinez Wells, who teaches the class “Biology of Terrestrial Arthropods.”

“No, they don’t carry contagious diseases, no Lyme disease or anything like that,” Wells said. “If there is a big infestation, it should be taken care of.”

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