These Huge Invasive "Parachuting" Spiders Expected to Spread to East Coast

Photo: Christina Butler // Wikimedia Commons

Another invasive species of insect is expected to come to the East Coast after it has reportedly been thriving in the state of Georgia.

University of Georgia scientists believe the Joro Spider from Japan will spread from there all the way up the coast through Virginia, DC and Maryland at some point.

The spiders are about three inches long and have a distinctive yellow and red coloring pattern on their abdomens.

They have so far been spreading slowly in Georgia, but there doesn't seem to be anything holding them back from spreading further.

"So in our experiment, we exposed them to a brief period of cold only for a couple of minutes at below-freezing temperatures and most of the Joros did fine," says Andy Davis, the co-author of a study on the spiders at the University of Georgia.

"It doesn't have anything that's controlling its population size in the new habitat, but it has perfect conditions to spread," says Benjamin Frick, another co-author.

The spiders are able to travel using their webs like hot-air balloons or parachutes to ride the wind.

There is at least some good news. So far, research seems to think that the spiders don't have any ill effects on the local food webs or ecosystems, according to Davis. Despite the relatively large size and menacing colors, the Joro Spider is very timid and flees when it suspects it's in danger.

They very rarely tend to bite humans and their fangs are so small that they even have difficulty producing a bite in human skin. They are venomous, but Davis and Frick say that the bite would sting less than one from a bee or wasp and wouldn't require medical attention.

The DMV could see the spiders starting in late May to early June, followed by the larger webs of the females towards the start of fall.

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