DPW, Public Health Command work together to curb spread of invasive species

By Noriko Kudo, U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public AffairsOctober 27, 2023

Brown spiders, Camp Zama’s community participation imperative
Camp Zama's Directorate of Public Works employee checks for brown spider egg sacs during a recent inspection at a playground on Camp Zama. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo ) VIEW ORIGINAL

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – The Directorate of Public Works and Public Health Command – Pacific here have been proactively working to curb the spread of an invasive arachnid species since it was identified on Sagamihara Family Housing Area three years ago.

After brown widow spiders were discovered on SFHA in 2020, DPW and PHC-P collaboratively initiated surveillance at all Child Development Centers, schools, and community playgrounds on both SFHA and Camp Zama. All affected areas were treated as necessary, and the process continues as needed to ensure a safe environment for the community, said Capt. John Eads, chief of entomology for PHC-P.

“The DPW employees are trained on what to look for and how to implement changes to reduce the chances of further [occurrences of the spiders appearing],” Eads said.

Eads explained that brown widows are venomous, and they inject venom by biting. However, they are generally considered to be less dangerous to humans than the black widow, he said.

Brown widow bites typically present mild symptoms such as swelling, rashes, localized pain, pain radiating proximally in the extremity, muscle rigidity, and nausea.

When DPW staff find any brown widow egg sacs, they eliminate them by crushing them or via chemical pesticide. And while the staff are effective at getting rid of the spiders wherever they are spotted, Eads said community members can provide additional help.

Eads recommended housing residents to routinely check playground equipment and toys or furniture that are left outdoors and reporting any sightings.

Anyone who discovers a large concentration of the spiders in places such as community playground areas can contact DPW customer service at DSN 263-4613 or 263-4274.

Additionally, there is a PHC-P entomology service line at DSN 263-8489 and a Japanese-language entomology specialist at DSN 263-8595 for those who have questions or other concerns regarding brown widows.