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Roach ‘Infestation’ At University Of South Carolina

They check in … but they won’t check out.

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Roaches check in … but at one University of South Carolina dormitory, it appears they don’t check out. Or won’t check out – no matter how many “roach motels” are deployed and no matter how many times bug spray is utilized in the hopes of nuking these pesky pests.

“They just keep coming,” a student at the school’s Bates House told me this week.

Over the weekend, a student and her roommate at Bates put out nearly two dozen Combat-brand roach motels in their room. Within twelve hours, all of them were full. Also, repeated dousings of roach spray allegedly failed to put a dent in the infestation.

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(Via: Provided)

The two roommates weren’t the only ones dealing with this creepy issue.

“Moving in, my daughter’s roommate’s family and I tried to clean their room as roaches crawled all over,” one frustrated parent told me. “We bought spray. We sprayed four times and finally began the move-in. As we moved the girls in, more roaches crawled out. We sucked them up with a vacuum. We moved the refrigerator that we are forced to rent from the school and they scattered. We sprayed the back of the fridge and under it, cleaned it well and – once again – vacuumed all of them up.”

Problem solved, right? Wrong.

“Before I left I saw more roaches crawling in the wall next to the door, along the rubber ‘baseboard’ loose from the wall they were coming out of the crack, so I sprayed the tops, down the cracks,” the parent continued. “The girls left to go to rush orientation and when they returned they found them going up the walls and in their beds. My daughter’s roommate was screaming and crying and called her grandmother who lived forty-five minutes away. She came back that night with roach traps.”

Did those work? No.

Like the girls who put out the two dozen Combat traps, these girls also saw their “roach motels” fill up faster than they could replace them.



Another parent told this news outlet they counted more than a hundred roaches during the four hours they were at Bates House with their daughter.

“They should be ashamed,” the parent said. “Have you seen that building? My daughter doesn’t have time to deal with this crap. She deserves better. We pay for better.”

Billed as a “one-of-a-kind residence hall community,” Bates House may have been just that … but those days seem to be long since gone. Erected in 1969, the ten-story building located at 399 Bull Street was once among the most coveted student housing destinations.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” one of the dorm’s first residents, Mel Wright, said according to a recent University post on the dorm. “The rooms, the study carrels at the end of the hall — it was just a great design.”

Fifty-four years later, Bates House has been living on borrowed time for the past seven years. In 2016, a mold scare in the building’s air vents prompted university officials to temporarily relocate multiple students. At the time, school officials told WIS TV-10 (NBC – Columbia, S.C.) they had “long-term plans to tear down the building along with several others.”

Seven years later, that still hasn’t happened …




Frustrating students and parents every bit as much as the infestation was the school’s initial response to it.

“Summer brings out the bugs!” interim assistant director of undergraduate assignments Drew Branham wrote in a copy-and-pasted reply to multiple emails expressing concerns about the infestation. “They seek out cool places to escape the Carolina heat.”

Branham went on to say the insects in question weren’t roaches, but rather “Palmetto Bugs.”

“These Palmetto Bugs are regularly seen throughout the spring, summer, and fall,” Branham added. “Yes, they are a nuisance, and we understand your concern. We have seen several 100+ degree days in the past week, which is likely the reason that we have seen an increase of Palmetto Bugs.”

But is there really any difference between roaches and “Palmetto Bugs?” No.

“A palmetto bug is the same thing as a cockroach,” according to Terminix, one of the nation’s largest pest control companies.

Offers to address the infestation via “increased treatments” and “enhanced custodial monitoring” fell on unenthusiastic ears, prompting school officials to make arrangements to transfer several students assigned to Bates House to “alternative housing options.”

“Any concerns or complaints related to on-campus residential housing are quickly addressed by our housing staff,” University spokesman Jeff Stensland told me Sunday afternoon.



Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.



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The Colonel Top fan August 21, 2023 at 10:01 am

I don’t know who fed you the BS about Bates being “coveted” but it is definitely “one of a kind on the USC campus. Bates was built using apparently poorly copied, maximum security, prison plans. Bates has been the least favored dorms on campus for years (and the coop once sported the “temporary” Honeycomb Dorms, that were supposed to last 10 years only to finally be torn down more than 50 years later).
The balconies, once sold as a feature, ensure you get wet leaving and entering the building and were once the site of many a “gravity experiment” featuring water balloons, bottles, cans, chair and the occasional refrigerator. It got so bad that they “enclosed them” with chain link fence to prohibit most of the experiments. Bates should have been torn down as soon as the new dorms were finished but USC, chasing the almighty dollar, needs more room for the burgeoning freshman classes…

Insider Info August 21, 2023 at 10:52 am

Bates has always had roaches, as well as other pests. Also remember water of questionable origin (though the smell certainly gave you a clue) leaking in one area. That was around 15 years ago, I doubt much has changed.

MaryContrary Top fan August 23, 2023 at 11:16 pm

This is totally unsanitary and USC should be forced to move all students out of Bates House to a clean dorm. Nothing short of “tenting” the entire building will rid the place of roaches, a.k.a. Palmetto bugs?. They need to get off the almighty dollar and do the right thing!!

Barbara Cole Top fan September 5, 2023 at 1:39 pm

The cockroaches are definitely not a new issue at USC. This has been going on since at least the 1990s when I was a student there. They weren’t just Palmetto bugs, either. Palmetto bug is another name for the American cockroach. They aren’t as harmful as German cockroaches because they don’t usually carry the same harmful bacteria, eat human food, and create large infestations. They typically live in trees and just try to come inside for the air conditioning and heat. If there are hundreds of them, they are probably German cockroaches who are going to try to stay inside and eat the students’ food. You can tell the difference in Palmetto bugs vs. German cockroaches by the size, tendency to fly, coloration, etc. I remember having to keep food in a mini refrigerator, plastic bags, airtight totes, etc. to keep roaches from getting all into them. Roaches were always crawling all over everything. The university might spray for them, but it didn’t help much or for long. We always complained about it, but the problem was never resolved. It’s just something you had to learn to live with and try to move out of the dorms as soon as you got the opportunity. It’s definitely not sanitary and it makes me upset to hear that this issue is still ongoing.


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