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Invasive black widow spider found at southwestern Japan port

The Yamaguchi Prefectural Government headquarters is pictured in this file photo. (Mainichi/Miki Hori)

YAMAGUCHI -- A southern or western black widow spider -- both designated as invasive alien species -- was found at a port in southwestern Japan, Yamaguchi prefectural officials said on Aug. 4.

    The female spider was spotted in a container that arrived at the port of Nakanoseki in the southwestern Japan city of Hofu on Aug. 3. Both the southern and western black widow spiders are venomous, and officials are warning people not to touch them with their bare hands if they encounter any.

    A southern black widow was previously found at the U.S. Marine Corps base in the Yamaguchi Prefecture city of Iwakuni, but no other cases have been recorded since. If the most recently discovered spider was a western black widow, it would be the first of its species to be found in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

    Officials were unable to determine exactly which species the spider was because it was not fully grown. Both the southern and western black widow have a body length of about 1 centimeter and red speckles or hourglass shapes on their ventral sides. Both types are aggressive, and their bites can cause swelling. There have been reports of deaths from black widow bites in North America.

    The Yamaguchi Prefectural Government is continuing an investigation at the port, and is calling on people who find any to kill them with pesticides or boiling water or by squashing them with their shoes, and to avoid touching them directly.

    (Japanese original by Hiroki Hayashi, Yamaguchi Bureau)

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