MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Black widows are well-known spiders recognized by the red, hourglass-shaped mark on their abdomens and their venom that is about 15 times stronger than that of a rattle snake.
When Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, noticed an increased sighting of black widows in 2000, Facilities hired two more pest controllers to have a seven man team working to handle the situation.
Throughout a two-month span, pest controllers examine everywhere from the outside of homes to the gutters in the streets aboard station.
While searching for black widows the pest controllers also inspect for roaches, ants, bees and moths; of all the pests, cockroaches are the ones encountered most, but black widow spiders are the most dangerous.
Although the black widow’s bite can be fatal, usually to a small child, fatalities are rare because the spiders are not aggressive, they will only bite in self-defense.
According to Seiji Shimata, a pest controller with Facilities, black widow spiders are usually found is in the gutters alongside roads and underneath cars shipped to Japan.
“When we find a spot infested by black widow spiders, or any other pests, we exterminate them on the spot and then check on that spot every once a while to make sure they don’t repopulate there,” said Shimata.
The black widows migrated here attached to cargo shipped from other countries. Pest controllers believe the spiders will not continue to be an issue, they’re doing everything they can to mitigate the problem.
The number of black widows found aboard station has dropped significantly since 2000 when they were first spotted. In 2001 pest control found a total of 6,168 spiders and in 2015 the number reduced to 557.
Masayuki Shiromoto, a gardener with Facilities, says he highly encourages anyone who does any type of gardening outside their home to wear gloves to reduce the risk of getting bit.
To report any sights of black widow spiders call Pest Control at 253-3131, but if bitten by a black widow, call 119 or 911 immediately.