Giant exotic spiders are invading the eastern United States — and experts warn they're here to stay

Joro spiders are not dangerous to humans, but the invasive species is still harming other species

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 7, 2023 5:15AM (EST)

Joro Spider (Getty Images/Gummy Bone)
Joro Spider (Getty Images/Gummy Bone)

Jorō spiders are brightly colored, as big as your hand, travel by a method known as ballooning — and, according to a recent study, they will soon be all over the eastern United States. But don't worry — these spiders are not considered to be a threat to humans. They have a timid temperament and therefore do not attack humans; even if they did, their fangs are not sharp enough to penetrate human skin.

Originating from East Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan, the Jorō spider first reached the United States in either 2013 or 2014 and currently has a 120,000 kilometer range. Because this spider is hurting other species in its new environment, it's considered invasive species, or an animal or plant that is both not native to an ecosystem where it currently lives and harmful. And given how well they seem to be doing here, only continuing to spread, it seems unlikely we'll ever be rid of them.

“Those data show that this spider is going to be able to inhabit most of the eastern U.S.,” David Coyle, study co-author and assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University, said in a statement. “It shows that their comfort area in their native range matches up very well with much of North America."

“These are not just benign spiders coming to catch and kill bad things; these are pushing out native species and catching and killing whatever happens to get in their webs,” Coyle added. “Are they bad or good? It’s very nuanced depending on your perspective.”

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