Large Joro Spiders Seen Last Year Are Expected to Spread Throughout Southeast, Study Says

The Joro spider, native to Japan but seen in Georgia last year, is expected by experts to spread further through the South.

Large spiders native to East Asia may spread to much of the East Coast of the U.S, according to a study done by researchers at the University of Georgia, mentioned in a recent release.  

The Joro, or Trichonephila clavata, is part of a group of spiders that are known as “orb weavers.” This name comes from their organized and three-dimensional, wheel-shaped webs.

According to the study, female Joro spiders have red, blue, and yellow colored markings on their bodies, and can be around three inches long with their legs fully extended. They have about double the metabolism and a 77% higher heart rate than its relatives. They can also survive a brief freeze that would kill its relatives.

First identified by Rick Hoebeke with the Georgia Museum of Natural History in 2014, millions of the spiders and their golden webs were seen throughout Georgia in 2021, with some also spotted in South Carolina. 

The Joro spider is common in Japan, which is similar in climate to the U.S. Because of their presence last year, entomologists have expected the spider to spread throughout the Southeast. 

"Just by looking at that, it looks like the Joros could probably survive throughout most of the Eastern seaboard here, which is pretty sobering," said Andy Davis, the study’s co-author, in a statement. 

How and when the spider first came to the U.S. is still unknown, in addition to the reason they were so prevalent in Georgia in 2021. According to WGCL-TV, there is the thought that the spiders were brought over in a shipping container that was dropped along Interstate 85 in the state. 

Per the statement released by the University of Georgia, experts are split when it comes to how the large spiders’ presence could impact their current environment. Because spiders are known for catching unwanted pests, some feel they are not only harmless but helpful.

Others feel that it is worth being cautious, considering that the spider population has expanded in an area they are not native to.

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