Invasive Joro spider takes hold in US

An invasive species of spider is making itself at home in parts of the southern and eastern United States. But don’t let the Joro spider Give us a moment to look at the creepy crawlies. Between its golden webs and silk-wielding tactics to find a mate, this arachnid is a fascinating and, as far as we know, harmless (unless you’re a stink bug) addition to the ecosystem.

And we better get used to the bright yellow Joro spider, because it looks like they’re planning to make it their permanent home. Research from the University of Georgia suggests the invasive arachnids could survive in colder climates than previously thought, and could therefore spread across most of the U.S. East Coast.

“The way I see it, there’s no reason for excessive cruelty if it’s not necessary,” Benjamin Frick, a co-author of the study and an undergraduate researcher in the Department of Ecology, said in a press release. “You have people with saltwater guns shooting them out of trees and things like that, and it’s just unnecessary.”

Where do Joro spiders come from?

The Joro spider, scientifically known as Nephila clavata (Nephila clavata)is native to East Asia. In Japan it is called jorō-gumo, which means “ensnaring or binding bride.” In Korea it is called mudang gumi, which means “shaman” or “fortuneteller.”

The names reflect the beauty and intrigue of the orb-weavers. While the smaller, dull male is nothing to write home about, the females have a yellow and gray abdomen, blue-green bands across the body, orange bands on the arching legs, and a bright red underbelly.

This spider, which can grow to 8 to 10 centimetres (3 to 4 inches) long, can’t predict the future, but it can weave a beautiful basket-shaped web that shimmers gold in the sunlight and can grow up to 3 metres (10 feet) wide.

Joro spiders globalize as an invasive species

In addition to common electronics and bananas, exotic plants and creatures such as the Joro spider also hitch a ride on goods bound for America, especially in shipping containers.

Now the Joro has jumped out of its shipping container and is living in Georgia and parts of South Carolina, and has even been spotted in Tennessee and Alabama. Scientists expect it to reach New York and New Jersey by 2024.

In some cases, homeowners have hundreds of Joro spiders around their homes. They prefer to build their webs high in trees and have been found in forests, urban woods, porch lights, wooden decks, shrubs, tall weeds, and even on the vinyl siding of homes.

    Joro spider

A female Joro spider hangs peacefully in her web waiting for prey, seen here from below. Wikimedia Commons (CC BY SA 3.0)

Joro Spider Adaptation

Their ability to adapt to natural habitats and native food sources in northern Georgia and South Carolina has allowed the Joro spider to increase in numbers along the East Coast, as far north as West Virginia. However, it is only a matter of time before predators catch up with the new invasive species.

“I think the spiders have spread so quickly here because predators, parasites, and diseases haven’t gotten to them yet,” said University of Georgia entomology professor Paul Guillebeau when we spoke to him in 2021. “If there’s a new, big food source like the booming spider population, eventually something will take advantage of that,” he said.

How Joro Spiders Mate

Joro spiders live very close to each other, which makes the mating process easier for individual spiders, as the males do not make their own webs, a task that is entirely left to the females.

To mate, the male Joro spider must pursue the females, but very carefully. Joro spiders can use spider webs and glide with outstretched legs on a breeze from tree to tree or from branch to branch until a female Joro spider is in sight or they see a web that is less used by males.

“Then the male tries to find a receptive female. The male is almost always smaller, so it’s hard to make your move without getting eaten.” Guillebeau has seen males wait around his house until a female is busy eating an insect before approaching — a much safer approach.

Are Joro spiders poisonous?

Although Joro spiders were first spotted in Georgia in 2013 and people are concerned about seeing so many of them so suddenly, it is still far too early to understand their major impact on the environment. So far, however, Joro spiders eat stink bugs and other flying insects, which is appreciated by farmers whose crops may suffer from stink bug infestations.

As orb-weavers, they naturally compete with other orb-weavers, such as the golden silk spider, for prey. But because they often weave their webs higher than local spiders, they may eat different types of prey, Guillebeau said.

Joro spider bites are venomous, but they are not dangerous to you or your pets. Joro spiders will only bite you or your pets if they are scared enough to do so.

Joro spiders pose no threat to human activity

“Even if you walk into a Joro web, it will try to escape instead of attacking you. If you catch a Joro in your hand, it may bite you out of fear. If I was caught by a giant, I would probably bite,” Guillebeau said.

If you get bitten by a Joro spider, it can irritate human skin just like a bee sting, but it’s not as bad as a brown recluse sting (which actually isn’t that bad). That bad) or black widow. There is currently no broad initiative to remove Joro spiders from the American ecosystem.

What should you do if you see a Joro spider (or another spider you often catch around your home)? You might be tempted to kill this invasive species, but try being more curious instead, Guillebeau suggested.

“Look at them every few days. Show them to your kids; they’re fascinating to watch. Throw an insect into the web if you want to see them in action.” Guillebeau reminded us: “Don’t kill spiders (or anything else) without a good reason. We all play our part in the ecosystem.”

Original Article: The Invasive Joro Spider Is Getting More Sociable in the US

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