“Orb-weaver” spiders are found in China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, and the Joro spider is one of the most common. Despite being poisonous, they solely employ the venom to keep their victim from fleeing.
After a steady increase in the spider’s population and range, nothing prepared Georgians or researchers for the number of spiders this year.
An invasive species from Asia, the bright-yellow Joro spider (Trichonephila clavata) is expanding throughout 25 counties in the state’s rural areas with its thick, wheel-shaped webs.
According to Rick Hoebeke, the collections manager at the Georgia Museum of Natural History, the 3-inch spider that was discovered in 2014 probably hitched a ride in a shipping container 80 miles to northeast of Atlanta.
Will Hudson, an entomologist at the University of Georgia is reported to have killed more than 300 spiders after his porch was coated in a covering of webs 10 feet deep, making it nearly impossible to use.
“Last year, there were dozens of spiders, and they began to be something of a nuisance when I was doing yard work, this year, I have several hundred, and they actually make the place look spooky with all the messy webs—like a scene out of Arachnophobia”
Humans, dogs, and cats are not at risk from the venom unless they are allergic. However, the spiders’ bites are rarely powerful enough to penetrate the skin even if they bite.
Joro spiders in Georgia are expected to die out by the end of November, but this will not be the last we see of them. Experts fear that the spiders might spread to other states with favorable conditions now that they have a footing in the country.
Egg sacs made of silk and containing at least 400 infants are laid by female Joros. A silk thread is used to float the hatchlings across vast distances as they emerge in the spring.
Some scientists are hopeful that the spiders will offer unanticipated advantages to the ecosystems they invade, unlike many other invasive species.
Nancy Hinkle a University of Georgia entomologist says Joro spiders effectively kill mosquitoes, bite flies, and invasive brown marmorated stink bugs, all of which have no natural predators and are known to damage crops.
There are several benefits to having a large number of giant spiders in the area, according to Hinkle: “Joro spiders present us with excellent opportunities to suppress pests naturally, without chemicals.”