It’s that time of year again when you can barely step foot outside without running face-first into a wall of spider webs.
The Joro spiders are back.
“They’re most prevalent exactly this time of year,” said Evan Lampert, a professor of biology at the University of North Georgia who specializes in entomology. “Peak emergence should be right around mid- to late-September.”
The eggs incubate over winter, hatch in the summer and by the time fall rolls around, Joro spiders are nearing the end of their year-long lifespans, with females growing up to 3-4 inches. One female Joro spider can lay between 400-1,500 eggs in a year.
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The invasive species — which are native to East Asia — first appeared in North America in September 2014, when a University of Georgia scientist discovered an unusual looking spider near his home in Colbert, Georgia.
Joro spiders are believed to have arrived inadvertently on shipping containers from East Asia, Lampert said. Since then, they have spread throughout the southeast, and recent evidence suggests they are likely to spread even further.
A UGA study published in February found that Joro spiders have higher heart and metabolic rates than their relative, the golden silk spider, allowing them to survive in colder climates. That means they could probably survive throughout much of the Eastern Seaboard, researchers concluded.
One way Joro spiders proliferate is by using a “kiting” technique, whereby they fashion a kite out of their silk web and use the wind to travel 50-100 miles before latching onto a tree or some other object. In theory, a Joro spider could fly from Gainesville all the way to Greenville, South Carolina.
“They’re here to stay,” Lampert said. “We have to accept that.”
Joro spiders are a species of orbweavers, so named based on their orb-shaped webs. They spin large, flat, golden webs suited to catching flying insects. They can grow larger than their relatives, the banana and writing spiders, flaunting bright yellow-greenish backs, yellow stripes on their legs and a dash of red on their bellies.
The word “Joro” is a truncated form of “Jorogumo,” a mythical creature in Japanese folklore that shapeshifts from a spider into a beautiful woman, luring young men into her web and devouring them.
Like all spiders, Joro spiders are venomous, but they’re not deadly. A bite from a Joro spider is probably about as painful as a bee sting, Lampert said.
You may not have much luck in eradicating them, but you can control their numbers by swatting their webs and stomping them. Lampert advises against “chemical control,” because it’s just not necessary. Also, chemicals can have what he calls “non-target effects,” harming other critters.
And if you’ve ever been tempted to take a flame to the webs, the fire department doesn’t recommend it. Last fall, a person caught their home on fire by using an open flame to burn Joro spider webs in their attic.
“(W)e understand Joro spiders are a nuisance, but it is best to clean up webs using dust brushes in lieu of open flames to burn the webs,” Hall County Fire Services said at the time.
This article was originally published in the Gainesville Times, a sister publication of the Dawson County News.