Each time Brenda Layne walks to her mailbox in Hall County, she carries a stick with her to destroy the homes of Joro spiders.
“I wind their sticky webs up and step on them as much as possible,” the 91-year-old said. “ … I do a quick dance every time I take a web of spiders down.”
Layne is one of many Northeast Georgians battling the annual arrival of Joros, a brightly yellow-colored spider that made its first appearance in the region around 2014.
Over the past few weeks, Garrett Hibbs — Hall’s cooperative extension agent who has been monitoring the spider — said reports have been rolling in from “a lot of folks” regarding the invasive arachnid.
When asked how to eradicate them, Hibbs recommends a simple option, one that doesn’t involve insecticides.
“If someone really doesn’t want them around their landscape, I don’t think there’s anything that works better than a stick and the bottom of a boot, honestly,” Hibbs said.
Like all spiders, they’re venomous, but their bite is comparable to a bee sting. Unless a person is specifically allergic to Joro spiders, they shouldn’t be concerned. These yellow arachnids are pacifistic and will flee once their webs are harmed.
Hibbs compares Joros to the Chinese privet, one of the most invasive plants in the South.
“You can’t prevent Chinese privet from popping up, but once it’s there, you remove it,” he said. “It’s like with any insect pest that you have, you just stay on top of them.”
By wrecking Joro webs and squishing them, Hibbs said it’s unrealistic to think people can eliminate all the spiders on their property. However, he said this may encourage the arachnids to build their webs elsewhere.
Although using an insecticide may seem like an easy way to kill Joros, Hibbs said it’s not more effective than a stick and a shoe. Plus, by spraying the chemicals into the air, he said people might harm native, beneficial insects.
“It’s more environmentally friendly to take them down and about the same amount of work,” Hibbs said.
In the fall, Joro spiders grow to their full size, nearing the end of their year-long lifespans. The females, including their leg span, can reach up to 3 to 4 inches.
This year, Hibbs said Joros have made an earlier appearance. From his observations, he said they usually begin popping up at the start of fall, not mid-July.
“We’ve seen a lot of insect pests over the county this year, and we’ve had some booms in populations,” Hibbs said. “I think (the early arrival) is associated with all the rain we’ve had. This has been a big year for Japanese beetles and for armyworms.”.