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Another variety of poisonous spider might be living at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, the base public affairs office said Friday.

What appears to be an indigenous Japanese widow spider — a relative of the black widows already living at the base — was killed by exterminators in a shipping and receiving area near the air station runway about two weeks ago, according to the base and Japanese media.

It could be a type of widow spider native to the remote Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa prefecture.

"We found a specimen of what we believe to be a ‘Yaeyama’ spider," base spokesman Maj. Guillermo Canedo said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes. "The specimen was sent to the entomologist at Yokosuka Naval Base for identification."

The air station notified Iwakuni city officials and prefecture officials of the find and Japanese officials called for a continued eradication effort.

Three varieties of black widow spider now live at the air station and none is native to Japan, Canedo said. The black widow is common in the United States and its venom can inflict muscle pain and nausea, and death among the very young and elderly.

The Yaeyama widow has red spots on its back and lives under rocks. It is poisonous but not aggressive and usually will not bite unless touched, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

Insects and spiders can travel long distances by stowing away on aircraft and ships and can cause problems when introduced into new environments.

Canedo said the base is unsure how the suspected Yaeyama spider made it to Iwakuni.

Black widow spiders have lived at Iwakuni for at least 12 years and have remained almost entirely contained to areas of the air station, according to Iwakuni city officials.

A team of seven exterminators is dedicated to eradicating the spiders and inspects the base five days per week, Canedo said. The air station has killed thousands of the spiders over the years but so far has failed to eradicate the population.

"These spiders are usually found on base near freight shipping and receiving areas and the chances of coming across one are very low," he said.

The number of poisonous spiders has decreased over the years, according to extermination information provided to Iwakuni city, said Hiroharu Doi, an official with the city’s Environmental Preservation Division.

Since the possibility of a new type of poisonous spider surfaced, the city underscored its desire for a total extermination of poisonous spiders at the base, Doi said.

"What we are asking is the same [as before] since there were already black widow spiders found, even though a new type was found this time," he said. "We are asking the spiders to be exterminated completely."

The air station should also take precautions, such as posting warning signs, so no visitors are bitten during the base’s May 5 Friendship Day festival, he said.

Only three black widows have been found in the city, and the last was in 2006, Doi said.

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Hana Kusumoto is a reporter/translator who has been covering local authorities in Japan since 2002. She was born in Nagoya, Japan, and lived in Australia and Illinois growing up. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University and previously worked for the Christian Science Monitor’s Tokyo bureau.

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