First-year Jasmine Alexander-Greene woke with a start one morning when she felt a large cockroach crawling across her face, causing her to fall out of bed.

In Epworth, cockroaches are the roommates that no one wanted—and now Duke is fighting back. During Fall Break, the dorm—which is the smallest residence hall on East Campus and houses approximately 50 first-years—will undergo extermination and “extensive preventative treatment,” said Rick Johnson, associate vice president of student affairs for Housing, Dining and Residence Life. Residents staying on campus will spend Sunday night in the Marriott Residence Inn Durham and will be able to return to their rooms as soon as noon the next day.

“I don’t think I’ve gone a day without seeing at least one roach in the building somewhere,” said Alexander-Greene, who is affectionately known as the dorm’s “roach sniper.”

The students are looking forward to no longer encountering the cockroaches—which first-year Arin Chapman described as fat and the “length of a pinky finger”—though many have said the pests are so prevalent that they have gotten used to them.

Since the start of school, some students have taken matters into their own hands. Several residents purchased chemical sprays to kill the cockroaches that crawl all over the the kitchen, common rooms, bathrooms and dorm rooms as well as the porch and balcony outside.

“We’re pretty sure they live in the walls,” Chapman said. “We’re all afraid to hit the walls because we’re going to piss them off, and they’re just going to come up and swarm us.”

Opened in 1894, Epworth is the oldest residence hall on East Campus. Age, however, is not the only factor that make the dorm so vulnerable to insects.

“Epworth is in a fairly secluded, wooded area and is easier [for cockroaches] to get into than the buildings on the main quad which are solid brick,” wrote LB Bergene, associate dean for East Campus, in an email.

Pest control technicians will be using a gel-based chemical made by DuPont, rather than gaseous fumigation, to treat indoor areas where bugs can infiltrate, such as the seam where the floor meets the wall or window and door cases. Two other insecticides—one spray and one powder-based—will be used for the exterior and basement.

HDRL previously attempted to capture cockroaches in the dorm with limited success by giving residents cockroach traps. However, some explained the cockroaches were too big to fit in the trap openings.

First-year Kiwan Hyun said HDRL has responded well to the cockroach problem.

While many Epworth residents will be heading home over break, Hyun will stay in the hotel on Sunday night, a relocation process he called “very smooth.” He welcomed HDRL's efforts exterminate the pests.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Epworth with less cockroaches,” Hyun said.