Invasive Joro spiders have already made their mark on parts of north Georgia.
Joro spiders, part of the orb weaver family, were first spotted in Hoschton, a town in northeast Georgia, in 2013. They are an invasive species believed to have initially traveled to the United States in a shipping container from China or Japan.
They're popping up in more and more places recently, with reports of them spotted as far reaching as Blairsville, Georgia, and Greenville, South Carolina. Their webs are taking over people's porches and mailboxes, and can be seen hanging from power lines as well.
The University of Georgia spread news of the "settling in" these invasive spiders have been doing. They can grow to three inches across when their legs are spread, and they spin large-scale, three-dimensional golden webs.
"We've been getting lots of calls and emails from people reporting sightings," said Byron Freeman, director of the Georgia Museum of Natural History. "They seem to be really common in riparian areas and in urban areas around people's houses, but they're also in the deep woods."
Freeman and other experts are unsure how the Joro spiders will ultimately impact native spiders and other wildlife within their ecosystem here in the U.S. He and Rick Hoebeke, associate curator of the museum's arthropod collection and a research professional in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences department of entomology, confirmed the identity of the spiders based on genetic analysis in 2015.
"We don't know what the impact is going to be," said Freeman, a faculty member in the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology. "Right now, we're trying to learn as much as we can about them."
Do Joro Spiders Bite?
Can a Joro spider bite you? Will it hurt? Is it venomous?
Luckily, they aren't very harmful to humans, if at all.
"All spiders have venom that they use to subdue prey," Freeman said. "If you put your hand in front of one and try to make it bite you, it probably will. But they run if you disturb their web. They're trying to get out of the way."
If you're allergic to their venom, there may be bigger concerns involved with bite treatment. But for the most part, Joro spiders will leave you alone if you leave them alone.
How Can You Get Rid of Joro Spiders?
Besides the basics, like keeping doors and windows closed and regularly cleaning and sweeping outdoor areas, there isn't a whole lot you can do to deter Joro spiders besides the more aggressive pest control methods of poisoning or killing them.
"Should you try to get rid of them?" said Freeman. "You can, but at this point, they're here to stay."