Oh, what a tangled web they’re weaving.
The Joro spider, which hails from Asia and was first spotted in Georgia about 10 years ago, is expected to make its way up the East Coast this spring, according to scientists at the University of Georgia.
The spiders have spread across the southeastern part of the country, thanks to parachute-like silks and their habit for attaching themselves to cars.
“They can survive the cold better,” University of Georgia research scientist Andrew Davis told TODAY in an interview that aired Thursday. “They have a higher metabolism, they have a higher heart rate. So, we put all that together, and we figured that this species will probably be able to exist outside of the southeastern U.S.”
The Joro spider is quite large, growing up to 3 inches from end to end, which is roughly the size of someone’s palm. That, combined with the creature’s bright yellow, blue and red colors and fearsome looking webs, may scare people, but experts say these arachnids are not here to hurt us.
“It turns out that this species is actually really, really timid, more timid than most of our native spider species,” Davis said. “And so even if a person were to walk into one of their webs, the spider is probably just going to run away.”
The Joro spider joins a list of insects that have recently made their presence known in the U.S. Last year, cicadas covered the country and murder hornets were abuzz in 2020.
So, how did the Joro wind up in the United States in the first place?
“A global economy is translating into a global biota,” entomologist Michael Raupp told TODAY. “So a ship’s leave foreign ports, they bring containers to this country and those containers may have objects inside that are housing or providing refuge for invasive species. So that means we’re going to have a steady stream of new species winding up on our shore.”
While the Joro spiders may make the hairs on your neck stand up, fret not. They’re not much of a threat to bite and, even if they do, their fangs are so short they won’t break the skin.