Millions of palm-sized, flying spiders may begin invading the East Coast

These spiders can actually be beneficial for the environment.
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The Joro spider.David Hansche/iStock

Do you live on the East Coast of the U.S. and have arachnophobia? Well, it sucks to be you, because palm-sized Asian spiders might invade your town after Georgia.

Joro spiders, 3-inch tiny monsters that are known to be invasive and able to travel as far as 100 miles with a parachute they fashion from their webs, had swarmed North Georgia last September, according to recent research published in the journal Physiological Entomology.

The Joro spider is part of a group of spiders known as “orb weavers” because they weave symmetrical, circular webs. The spider gets its name from Jorōgumo or Yōkai, a Japanese spirit, which disguises itself as a beautiful woman to prey upon gullible men as the myth suggests. But have no fear of their frightening appearance in the myths, Joro spider’s bite is usually not strong enough to break through the skin and their venom doesn't pose a threat unless you have allergies.

The lead author of the study from the University of Georgia, Andy Davis said, “People should try to learn to live with them,” in a statement. “If they‘re literally in your way, I can see taking a web down and moving them to the side, but they‘re just going to be back next year.”

“Just by looking at that, it looks like the Joros could probably survive throughout most of the Eastern Seaboard here, which is pretty sobering,” Davis added.

The Joro spider first arrived stateside around 2013, then it hitchhiked its way to Georgia, inside a shipping container in 2014, before increasing its numbers to millions in a small time frame. 

The bright yellow, blue-black, and red spiders’ golden webs are everywhere from drape porches to mailboxes in more than 25 state countries.

Fortunately, Joro spiders differ from most invasive species. While invasive species usually tend to destabilize the ecosystems they colonize, the Joro spider could actually be beneficial according to entomologists. Joro spiders are expected to kill off mosquitos, biting flies, and other invasive species.

“The potential for these spiders to be spread through people‘s movements is very high. The way I see it, there’s no point in excess cruelty where it’s not needed,” added Benjamin Frick, co-author of the study and an undergraduate researcher in the School of Ecology.

So even if you have arachnophobia there is no reason to kill those tiny giants, as they do more good than harm.

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