Invasive Spiders Are Coming


The Joro spiders with their high metabolism, increased heart rate, and personal parachute are predicted to arrive in New York in a few months.

Jennifer Schwartz

Neon-colored, venomous, and practically able to fly through the air with their webs? While this description may bring about visualizations of a sci-fi villain, the Joro spiders are anything but evil. In fact, they might even be helpful to the environment. 

The Joro spiders are a species of Japanese arthropods that was first discovered in Georgia in 2014. At the time, scientists only expected them to spread through the southeast. But these colorful creatures have exceeded all expectations. The species has spread to North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Oklahoma. How, you may ask? Not only are they able to survive freezing temperatures, but they have a few other features that set them apart from the every-day house spiders. They have about double their metabolism, a 77% higher heart rate, and can create their own parachutes!

Their parachutes are actually their primary mode of transportation and their webs can grow to be up to 10 feet deep, which is shockingly large, even considering the fact that the spiders themselves are about three inches wide. While it is unknown how these spiders initially made their way across the Atlantic to the US, it is not all too surprising. The spiders were able to spread through much of the Southeastern United States on shipping containers and trucks. According to many sources, the spiders are also often hitching rides on fellow humans. 

Since the climate in much of the US is similar to that of Japan, scientists believe the spiders will not have a hard time adapting to their new home. Although many invasive species can harm their new environments, like zebra mussels that completely clog pipes, some research suggests that the Joro spiders might actually benefit the environment. They will act as an additional food source for some native birds and they eat other invasive species like the stink bug, which damages many common crops. 

In conclusion, should you be scared of your soon-to-be eight-legged neighbors? While they are venomous, so are almost all spiders. However, also like almost all spiders, their venom is not poisonous. You should only be cautious if you’re allergic to their venom. You might actually come to like them since they’ll get rid of (I’m going to take a wild guess here) one of your biggest enemies, mosquitos. So, in a few months, when these spiders are expected to make their big debut in New York, you don’t need to worry.