News and Blog Articles
News and Blog Articles
It’s October, which means Halloween is right around the corner. And whether you’ve put up decorations or not, most houses still look the part – thanks to some large golden spiders and their larger golden webs.
These creepy crawlies are Joro spiders, an invasive species that’s been spreading across Georgia (and the Southeast) for the last few years.
The Joro Invasion
Unlike most invasive species, which can be detrimental to the environments they invade, Joros are actually pretty harmless. They don’t prey on any crops, and don’t have any special preferences for their meals, so they aren’t likely to decimate any native insect populations. In fact, Joros have actually aided in reducing the number of brown stinkbugs.
The main drawback of the Joro invasion right now is the sheer amount of them. Their population keeps growing exponentially season after season, but luckily, leading scientists studying them believe that their numbers will level out with time.
Thankfully, Joro spiders don’t present any danger to us humans. While they look pretty scary, and can definitely be a nuisance when they build a web right outside your front door, they are unlikely to try and take a bite unless provoked. Even then, their mouths are so small, they can’t really do any damage. As with most creatures in nature, if you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.
What do Joro spiders look like?
As with many arachnids, the males of the species are diminutive and less noticeable. Though they can often be found along the same web as the female Joros, you likely won’t be able to spot the males at all. Their muted, orange-ish brown coloring helps them blend easily into their environment.
The Joro spiders everyone’s talking about are the females. With their thick abdomen and long legs, female Joros are easily one of the more intimidating arachnids in our area. Their bodies are striped with a bright yellow and a muted greenish black, and their legs are shiny black with golden bands. The splash of red on the underside of their abdomens makes them even more intimidating, as red coloring is nature often means “Danger!”
Aren’t they just banana spiders?
Female Joro spiders are often confused with banana spiders thanks to their yellow coloring, and that moniker isn’t 100% incorrect. “Banana spider” is a term used to refer to at least five different arachnid variations of orb-weavers. The Joro spider is also an orb-weaver, and is very similar in appearance to the classic banana spiders.
The easiest way to tell the difference between a Joro spider and a banana spider is the web. Banana spider webs look just like you expect a classic one to, with each strand nearly invisible from how thin it is. Banana spiders usually create a single thick zig-zag line bisecting the center of their web that earns them the nickname “writing spiders.”
Joro webs, on the other hand, are made of thick golden strands that appear much more half-hazard than standard spider webs. This, along with their sheer massive size, make them fairly easy to spot, and therefore fairly easy to avoid.
What can I do to get rid of them?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot we can do right now to reduce their numbers. Right now, they’re almost like hydras; for every Joro you kill, two more will take its place. But they won’t be around forever. Most Joros will have died off by the end of November.
Leading UGA entomologists encourage you to leave them be. While they may not be a joy to have around, they do help control the pest population, and can decrease the number of bugs you see in your home as the weather cools.
In the meantime, their webs all over your porch certainly make for a spooky Halloween decoration!
Emily Casuccio is sister and sister-in-law to Rebekah and Scott Rushing, and has over half a decade of experience in copywriting, copyediting, proofreading, and developmental storyboarding. She's worked with both published and undiscovered authors on both fiction and nonfiction, and takes pride in supporting local businesses. Her passion lies in the written word and helping authors of all capacities realize their dreams and achieve their fullest potential. To learn more about her, read samples of her work, or contact her, visit her online portfolio.