Just in time for Halloween, the Joro spider—a species native to Japan—was discovered for the first time in Alabama up near Paint Rock.
Bill Finch, Founding Director at the Paint Rock Forest Research Center, told The Bama Buzz the newly found invasive arachnid was found in the town of Paint Rock at a popular nature preserve owned by The Nature Conservancy in Alabama.
The bright yellow, blue-black and red spiders first arrived in Georgia back in 2013. According to University of Georgia scientists, the spider will likely cover much of the Eastern seaboard and Southeast because the climate closely mimics Japan’s. The Joro is also a master at using its silks to carry it across the wind to new locations via a behavior called ballooning.
“It’s very likely that somebody from Atlanta was driving by and they let the spider out of their car into Paint Rock when they were stopping there to enjoy nature,” said Finch.
Joro Spider Meet the Golden Silk Spider
The Joro spider can weave a web 4 to 6 feet in diameter and is more or less 4 to 5 inches long for females and males are only 1-2 inches.
The species has a twin here in Alabama, according to Mike Howell, Samford biologist and author of Spiders of the Eastern United States.
That twin is the Golden Silk Spider, commonly found in South Alabama with a rapidly expanding range over the past few years.
50 years ago, the Golden Silk Spider had not been seen in Alabama beyond the fall line near Montgomery. They are now frequently discovered in Birmingham.
Several scientists believe there is evidence the Golden Silk Spiders move northward is caused by changing climate.
Even though they are quite large and spin huge massive webs, both the Joro and Golden Silk Spiders are harmless. They are considered more of a nuisance.
“Basically, they are non-venomous spiders to humans. But no one wants the population to explode to the point where you might walk out into your backyard and have one of these four to six foot golden webs wrap around your face, along with a huge spider,” described Howell.
Finch, who was a longtime resident of Mobile, told us he liked seeing the Golden Silk spiders.
“We used to give them names since they were so benign (in his backyard). It’s gonna be the same with this new spider. I would go through the woods and there would be times when the golden weavers were so thick that you would have them crawling all over you. You couldn’t avoid them through some patches of woods. They’d be in your shirt, your hair and in your hat!”
Harmless or not, if the Georgia scientists are right, be ready to welcome the Joro spider to an Alabama forest or neighborhood near you. Just in time for Halloween.
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