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The Joro Spider Moves North

The Joro Spider Moves North

Brace yourselves for a bug-heavy summer! As if the double cicada brood emergence and spotted lanternfly comeback weren’t enough, experts are now predicting the arrival of a flashy newcomer on the East Coast: the joro spider.

Hailing from East Asia, the joro spider was first spotted in the southeastern U.S. about a decade ago. Andy Davis, a scientists at the University of Georgia who studies joro behavior and psychology, says these eight-legged travelers likely hitched a ride on shipping containers from overseas.

Roughly the size of a human hand, the orb-weaving arachnids have begun to make waves as they migrate north. With their striking black-and-yellow coloration and expansive gold webs, joro spiders aren’t inconspicuous, but they also aren’t harmful. If you leave joro spiders alone, they’ll return the favor. And if you do happen to get bit, it will likely hurt less than a bee sting. Their venom is too weak to have much, if any, effect on humans.

They’re “exceptionally shy,” Davis explained. “They’re not going to come get you.”

According to Scientific American, baby joro spiders use a trick called “ballooning” to shoot silk threads that catch the wind and carry them along air currents for short distances. You won’t see them taking flight once full grown, however.

The Mid-Atlantic region shares a similar climate to some East Asia countries, making it a likely hotspot for joro sightings. It’s unclear exactly when they’ll appear in the area, but rest easy, arachnophobes; there won’t be trillions of them dropping from the sky like something out of a horror movie.

What impact will these flamboyant newcomers have on local ecosystems? That’s the million-dollar question. Valdosta State University professor Erin Grabarczyk and colleagues have observed that joro spiders aren’t picky eaters—they’ll munch on virtually any insect that wanders into their web. But Grabarczyk acknowledges that scientists aren’t yet sure if joro spiders will displace local arachnids or wreak havoc on East Coast ecology.

So, prepare for summer of cicadas, lanternflies, and now joro spiders. There’s never a dull moment in the great outdoors!

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