MILLIONS of venomous spiders that can “fly for 100 miles” have invaded the USA.
The palm-sized Joro spider is large, leggy and bright yellow – and normally lives in Asia.
A large adult female Joro spider seen next to a smaller brown male spider[/caption]
Millions of palm-sized Joro spiders now live in the USA[/caption]
First US sightings of the spider date back to Georgia in 2014.
But the species has quickly spread across dozens of counties in the state, and now numbers in the “millions”, scientists say.
Locals find the spiders on complicated golden webs across “porches, power lines and mailboxes”.
And scientists believe that are now here to stay.
“Last year, there were dozens of spiders, and they began to be something of a nuisance when I was doing yard work,” said Will Hudson, an entomologist at the University of Georgia.
“This year, I have several hundred, and they actually make the place look spooky with all the messy webs.
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“Like a scene out of ‘Arachnophobia’.”
Joro spiders typically live in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China.
The spiders don’t “fly” in the same way that birds and winged insects do.
Instead they use a technique called ballooning.
This involves spinning a web to catch an air current – and then soaring as far as 50 or 100 miles before latching onto a tree.
But these invaders didn’t fly all the way from Japan.
Instead, it’s likely that humans accidentally brought them over.
“Our best guess is that it came in a shipping container and dropped off here somewhere on I-85 in the Braselton area,” said Rick Hoebeke, collections manager at the Georgia Museum of Natural History.
“They are great little hitchhikers!”
Joro spiders can measure up to three inches across with legs extended – though their bodies are usually less than an inch.
As with many spiders, females are typically bigger than males.
The spiders are venomous, an offensive mechanism to immobilise prey.
But this venom is mostly harmless to humans, dogs and cats unless it causes an allergic reaction.
Many spiders will struggle to break through human skin.
The bite has been compared to a small bee sting.
“As with all orb weavers, it has small mouth parts,” said UGA entomologist Nancy Hinkle.
Here to stay
Most of the spiders will die off by late November – but will leave behind egg sacs.
These hatchlings will emerge in spring, and could extend their habitat by “ballooning” through the air across America.
Scientists think there are now so many of them that “eradication is not an option”.
But they have a benefit – surprising mosquitoes and biting flies.
Joro spiders are also one of the few arachnids to catch and eat brown marmorated stink bugs – a known crop pest.
The colourful crawler is most commonly linked to Japan, where the Joro spider’s name comes from.
In Japanese folklore, a Jorōgumo is a spider that can transform into a beautiful woman to seduce and ultimately devour men.
Experts say the spiders don’t pose a threat to humans – and entomologist Nancy Hinkle believes they actually provide useful pest control[/caption]
The spiders are renowned for their multi-layered webs that have a distinctive golden tint[/caption]
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