WASHINGTON - The Joro spider, known for its distinctive yellow and blue color, could invade the entire East Coast soon, a new study says.
Based on new research showing that the palm-sized arachnid can survive in colder temperatures, researchers expect them to arrive in the D.C. area by summer. The spiders, which are common in Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan, prefer disrupted urban areas such as buildings close to parks, fields, or wooded areas.
In September 2021, researchers found the invasive species, which first made its way to the United States in 2013, spinning its webs all over northeast Georgia. They have also been found in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Tennessee, and even Oklahoma, according to the study.
They cover power lines, bushes, and mailboxes, and after scientists observed the spiders and tested their physiology, they concluded the species could potentially survive outside the southeastern quadrant of the U.S., according to a study published in the journal Physiological Entomology.
How will they get to the DMV? Human transport. The first Joros to arrive in the U.S. were likely stowaways on shipping containers. "With their uncanny ability to attach themselves to things like cars, shipping containers, other things that otherwise are unnoticed means the Joro spiders are really, really good at being moved around by people," said Ben Frick, a researcher at the University of Georgia.
The Joro — Trichonephila clavata — is part of a group of spiders known as orb weavers for their highly organized, wheel-shaped webs. They can also use their silk sacks as a method of wind transportation.
All research, so far, shows that these spiders are relatively harmless to people and pets. Frick emphasized that killing the spiders won't do any good. Once they get here, they're here to stay. "As the spiders become more common, the most important thing to do is to understand that there's absolutely nothing you can do to stop them," he said.