Georgia residents would be forgiven for being a little creeped out by the thought of copious palm-sized invasive spiders taking up lodging in their state. But scientists say there’s no reason to fear the creatures, which are actually beneficial.
Joro spiders are large spiders with bulbous yellow abdomens and thin yellow stripes on their legs. They originally hail from East Asia, but were first spotted in Georgia in 2013. They likely arrived by stowing away in shipping containers, Rick Hoebeke, collections manager the Georgia Museum of Natural History, said in a late September news release from the University of Georgia.
“They are great little hitchhikers!” he added.
At this point, the spiders are thriving and exist in “extreme numbers” in Georgia, Michele Hatcher of the UGA Department of Entomology told USA Today. The arachnids have also made an appearance in South Carolina.
The eight-legged critters don’t seem to be any cause for concern. So far, they haven’t had any negative effect on native species, and they also don’t pose any danger to humans. In fact, they provide a big benefit ― eating pests like mosquitoes, biting flies and stink bugs.
That’s why UGA entomologist Nancy Hinkle views them as a “beautiful creature that provides free pest control,” she told the Johnson City Press.
She made similar comments in the UGA statement.
“Joro spiders present us with excellent opportunities to suppress pests naturally, without chemicals, so I’m trying to convince people that having zillions of large spiders and their webs around is a good thing!” she said.
At any rate, the Joro population is so well-established by now that they’re “not going anywhere,” Hoebeke added. However, their population will likely eventually stabilize at a number smaller than it is now.
For those — and other — reasons, you should not emulate one Georgia man who set his attic on fire this week in an attempt to eradicate Joro spiders. If the spiders are in your home and bothering you, Christie Grice of the Hall County Fire Marshal’s Office told the Forsyth County News that the best course of action is to sweep away the webs, not go after them with an open flame.