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Huge venomous spiders with 'flying' ability are invading the East Coast

The Joro spider is an invasive species native to East Asia.
Joro spider
Posted at 5:08 PM, Jun 05, 2024

Cicadas aren’t the only insects taking over this summer. Experts say a giant, venomous spider species that can grow legs up to 4 inches long has spread throughout the Southeastern U.S. and is working its way up the coast to states like New Jersey and Delaware.

The Joro spider is an invasive species native to East Asia. The crawlers began taking over Georgia in 2013 but researchers at Clemson University believe they were introduced stateside in 2010.

It’s likely the spiders got to the U.S. by hitching a ride on a cargo ship or finding their way into personal luggage.

The black and yellow spiders have a unique — and equally terrifying — ability to fly, using a method called “ballooning” in which they release threads of silk web into the air that allow them to be carried by the wind.

Yes, they are venomous, but their venom is not deadly to humans, and their bite has been compared to the pain level of a bee sting.

The cause for concern is that studies show Joro spiders are spreading across the U.S. like wildfire, threatening native insect populations and therefore altering the natural food chain. They have consistently taken over the Southeast and are headed north.

The spiders are comfortable in a climate like North America’s and, based on a study done at the University of Georgia, they don’t seem to be bothered by the hustle and bustle of urban areas.

“Those data show that this spider is going to be able to inhabit most of the Eastern U.S.,” said David Coyle, a scientist and assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University who has researched the arachnid. “It shows that their comfort area in their native range matches up very well with much of North America.”

Their population is estimated to be in the millions now, so they’re not going anywhere. Experts say the spiders are more of a nuisance for humans than anything else.

However, efforts are underway to continue studying the Joro spider’s behavior in order to plan an effective strategy for mitigating the invasion.

Who knows, maybe they'll acquire a craving for cicadas and we can all live in peace.

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