GUAM FINDS BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS IN CARGO FROM HAWAII

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Other invasive species discovered on Christmas trees

By Janela Buhain HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Nov. 25, 2010) – A female Black Widow spider with tons of her babies were discovered in a cargo from Honolulu, Hawai΄i Wednesday morning and another ship carrying Christmas trees was also found to be carrying an unidentified invasive species.

Officials warned more invasive species can be expected as the military buildup progresses as more construction materials will be brought on island.

A female brown tree snake that sneaked into a military cargo is now blamed for the hundreds of thousands of her species living on Guam.

According to Guam Customs and Quarantine Director Dennis Santo Tomas, both ships were completely fumigated and were re-inspected before being allowed to unload on deck.

At 3:15 a.m. yesterday morning, stevedores working on the Matson MV Manukai opened a hatch and discovered a "large black spider" with numerous baby spiders that were later identified by a University of Guam entomologist as Black Widow Spiders, said Port Authority of Guam General Manager Enrique J.S. Agustin in a media release.

Though its name connotes femininity, the Black Widow could be either male or female. It’s poisonous but not lethal enough to kill a person.

"When stevedores discovered the Black Widows, they immediately shut the hatch and notified Port police of their findings. Port Police immediately contacted Guam Customs & Quarantine Agency officials and they were told to halt operations," Agustin said.

Although the Black Widow spiders were found only on a crane within the Matson vessel, Santo Tomas said Customs officials fumigated the entire ship including other construction equipment to ensure the invasive species does not enter Guam.

In addition, Port Authority officials discovered insects that appeared to either be spiders or beetles aboard another ship carrying Christmas trees entering Guam.

Santo Tomas said that ship has been fumigated as well, however, the species has not been identified.

The ship originated from a port in Oregon and the shipment was intended for Cost U Less, Santo Tomas said.

He warned that as the military buildup approaches, an increase in demand for supplies will bring invasive species on island.

"These are just Christmas trees. We’ll get more containers whether it’s just one spider or a thousand spiders—we will definitely see an increase in invasive species for sure," Santo Tomas said.

Santo Tomas said GCQ is working diligently to minimize the amount of invasive species that could enter Guam.

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