Arachnophobes, beware. Because an invasive species is now found in Georgia. The Joro spiders are native to East Asia but were first spotted in the U.S. in 2014.
The University of Georgia’s Dr. Will Hudson, an entomologist, is familiar with spiders. He says that he first saw them in his backyard a few years back.
But he says if someone is squeamish about creepy, crawly, long-legged insects, it may comfort them to know that the spiders won’t hurt them.
“The spiders themselves are harmless,”He shared the details. “In fact, I watched a colleague. They were in my yard collecting spiders for a study that they were going to do, and she was stuffing these spiders into a vial that wasn’t a whole lot bigger around than the spider’s abdomen itself.
“You can only do that by grasping them by their front ends and pushing them in. It was barehanded.” he continued.
Hudson says this invasion doesn’t warrant an eradication effort like the one going on in Washington state to find and destroy the Asian Giant Hornet, also known as murder hornets.
“The giant hornet is a danger to honeybeekeepers and beekeepers, for one. But it is also a direct threat against people. Because the sting can cause severe pain and even death in sensitive individuals, it is dangerous.” he said.
“It’s obvious. It is a much worse invader than the one we have. They aren’t aggressive, these spiders I can tell you. I don’t know what it would take for one to bite me.”
Anyone who sees one can kill them, but researchers say it’s not necessary. And for those hoping for a possible self-eradication, Hudson warns that they shouldn’t get their hopes up because the Joro spiders really seem to like the climate in Georgia.
“It’s a great place for spiders. I don’t think they will be able maintain the current numbers.” he said. “This is a huge resource that the natural system cannot afford to ignore. The system will adapt. These spiders will be around, along with all the others, probably. But they won’t disappear. Joro spiders are not going away.
It is now up to humans whether they are able to live peacefully with this new species.