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‘These are not spiders that are out hunting babies:’ Clemson professor talks Joro spider invasion

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 11:38 AM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A large, parachuting spider species invading South Carolina has a lot of arachnophobes concerned - but one expert says you don’t need to panic.

Pictures and videos of the Joro spider, a big web-spinner with long black legs and a bright yellow striped body, are going viral after scientists said they will soon cover most of the East Coast.

Like many other spider species, the Joro spider can also use their web to create a “balloon” they can use to ride the wind. They are originally native to East Asia but researchers believe they arrived in the U.S. about a decade ago on shipping containers.

Dr. Dave Coyle, an assistant professor of forest health and invasive species for Clemson University, says around 7 years ago the spiders were first found in northern Georgia. In the last two to three years, they’ve started to spread into the Upstate and North Carolina.

Dr. Coyle said sightings of the Joro spiders begin in mid to late summer.

“You’re not going to see any of them right now,” Coyle said in March. “They’re still kind of just egg sacks on leaves that you can find on the ground usually.”

He says July to September is when you’ll see them.

While they look scary, Dr. Coyle said Joro spiders are “simply a nuisance” and aren’t dangerous to humans - but their impact on native spider species isn’t known yet.

“You really don’t know if this is displacing native stuff or not,” he said. “So personally, I’m not prepared to say that it’s not harmful. But I can say that it’s not harmful to people or pets.”

Dr. Coyle said the big question most people are asking: how much will the Joro spider continue to spread into South Carolina? He expects this year, they will be seen more and more outside the Upstate.

His advice if you see a Joro Spider? Just leave it alone.

“These are not spiders that are out hunting babies or anything like that,” Dr. Coyle said. “They’re just doing their spider thing. And if you leave it alone, it will leave you alone.”

You can report Joro spider sightings here.