Wary of giant, parachuting Joro spiders? Here’s what you need to know.

You may have heard of some not-so-itsy-bitsy ones poisonous flying spiders that can fly with the wind, like to eat butterflies and are already appearing along the east coast. They are called Joro spiders – and their lifestyle is as interesting as their appearance.

Perhaps the most intriguing part? Despite their ability to parachute through the air and their large size, researchers have discovered that they are actually super shy. In fact, they may be among the ‘shyest’ spiders ever documented,” according to a report published by the University of Georgia. last year.

“We wanted to get to know the personalities of these spiders and see if they could be so aggressive,” co-author Andy Davis said of the report’s findings. “It turns out they’re not.”

Here’s what you need to know about these arachnids as experts say they’re making their way from Georgia to New York and beyond.

A Japanese Joro spider, a species of golden orb weaver, Trichonephila clavata, feeds on a small grasshopper in a forest near Yokohama, Japan.  /Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Japanese Joro spider, a species of golden orb weaver, Trichonephila clavata, feeds on a small grasshopper in a forest near Yokohama, Japan. /Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

What do Joro spiders eat?

Researchers at Clemson University previously discovered that Joros like to eat flying insects, but they aren’t really picky about which ones.

“These spiders don’t seem to care what ends up in their web; they are as likely to eat brown marmorated stink bugs as a monarch butterfly,” researcher David Coyle said in a university news release. that “they are a spider – and if anything gets caught in their web, it will be eaten.”

Ultimately, researchers say they’re not likely to bite people or pets, or, if you live in New York City, the giant rats that roam the trash cans. If and when the arachnids end up in the Big Apple, they are more likely to eat cockroaches or wasps.

Where do Joro spiders come from?

The yellow-gray Joros are an invasive species, meaning they are not native to the United States. According to the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, the spiders are native to East Asia and were first spotted in Georgia in 2014. However, it didn’t take long for them to end up “everywhere,” Coyle said. .

Coyle first saw them in his backyard a few years ago, realizing he could see one of the creatures about every six feet. Since they first reached Georgia, they have expanded their territory considerably.

A Joro spider is seen building a web.  /Credit:/Getty ImagesA Joro spider is seen building a web.  /Credit:/Getty Images

A Joro spider is seen building a web. /Credit:/Getty Images

Where are Joro spiders in the US?

Joros have been sighted in several states since they first landed in Georgia. According to data submitted to iNaturalist, the spiders have been spotted in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio.

“Data indicate this spider may inhabit most of the eastern U.S.,” Coyle said in October. ‘It shows that their comfort zone in their native range matches very well with much of North America. … We expect the range of these things to continue to expand, probably northward, and we’ve already seen that in some populations. in Maryland.”

Are Joro spiders poisonous to humans?

Technically yes, but also no. Joro spiders are venomous, but they are not known to be aggressive and are much more afraid of humans than humans are of them, which is really saying a lot.

“They are harmless to humans and are hesitant to bite,” says Penn State Extension. “And if bites do occur, the venom is weak and not medically important.”

If a bite does occur, the organization added, it would be less painful than a bee sting, and any local pain and redness would disappear quickly.

In a report published last year, researchers from the University of Georgia analyzed 450 spiders from 10 different species to study their responses to small disturbances. They found that while most spiders freeze for less than a minute before resuming activity, Joro spiders essentially “shut down” and don’t move for more than an hour. The only other spider that exhibits similar behavior is the Joro’s cousin, the golden silk spider.

“These spiders are actually more afraid of you than the other way around,” said researcher Andy Davis.

Even if they get so scared that they try to bite you, Davis’ team found that their teeth are probably not even big enough to bite through the skin.

Coyle said he has held the spiders “countless times,” as have his children, and that there is “really no danger” to people or pets.

A Joro spin / Credit: Dave Coyle/Clemson UniversityA Joro spin / Credit: Dave Coyle/Clemson University

A Joro spin / Credit: Dave Coyle/Clemson University

Should I Kill Joro Spiders?

Although the spiders may make you squeamish and seem quite scary, the arachnids are incredibly timid. It may not be necessary to kill them, Coyle said.

“Pesticides work, but they are also probably overkill because they will kill everything else, and there is a cost involved,” he said, suggesting that the spiders should be physically moved if they have crawled into your home. “They seem to like structures. So I just tell people to take a stick or broom and remove it.”

In his research, Davis has found that although the spiders are an invasive species, they do not appear to have had a major impact on local ecosystems. However, more research is needed on this front.

“People have to try to live with it,” he said. “If they’re literally in your way, I imagine you take down a web and move them aside, but next year they’ll just come back.”

Even pest control service Orkin says that “removing them from the home or removing their webs may be enough.”

How big are Joro spiders?

According to Penn State Extension, adult female Joro spiders have a body of up to 1 inch in length and a leg span of up to 4 inches. For reference, the average length of a human woman’s hand is 6 inches (15.5 cm) – meaning the leg length of these spiders would take up most of an average woman’s hand.

Adult male Joro spiders are “much smaller,” PennState Extension said, with a body length of just over a quarter inch. They also look much browner than females.

Even bigger than the spiders, however, are their webs. Coyle found a number of webs that were more than two meters long. There are reports that the webs can be up to 3 meters wide.

Can Joro spiders fly?

They may not have wings, but they love to take to the air, so to speak. It’s not ‘flying’ per se, but the arachnids use a technique called ‘ballooning’, where they release their silk into the wind and let the current take them on an adventure.

According to Penn State Extension, spiderlings can move “tens to hundreds of miles” using this process, “so a storm blowing in the right direction at the right time of year can move them in leaps and bounds.”

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