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Joro spiders are an invasive species known for parachuting through the air. Here’s why you shouldn’t fear them.

Halloween may be over, but that doesn’t mean the scary spiders are over for the year. A large yellow spider known as Joro Spider that has been found in several states is expected to continue spreading along the East Coast, according to a Clemson University scientist.

The spiders are sometimes called skydiving spiders because they can move by projecting a long strand of silk that is caught by the wind, carrying them through the air. But Dave Coyle, an assistant professor at Clemson who has a doctorate in entomology and has studied spiders for years, said people shouldn’t expect these brightly colored creatures to suddenly descend on them from high.

“Big guys don’t do that,” he said. “It’s a little spider story. It happens, and people don’t even know there are little spiders in the sky.”

What are Joro spiders?

Joro spiders were first discovered in the United States in Georgia in 2014. Since then, the species native to East Asia has been observed in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.

A Joro spider
A Joro spider

Dave Coyle/Clemson University

Coyle expects them to continue to spread.

“It seems extremely likely that they will have no problem expanding to the entire eastern half of the country,” he said.

Are Joro spiders venomous?

Although all spiders have venom, the Joro spider poses a threat to anything caught in its web – which can include butterflies, cockroaches, stink bugs and wasps – but not to humans.

“We have no evidence that they caused harm to any person or pet,” Coyle said.

A Joro spider
A Joro spider

Dave Coyle/Clemson University

A video about Joro spiders put online from Clemson shows several children letting the arachnids crawl on their hands.

Although the spiders do not pose a threat to humans, they do have an effect on other spiders, Coyle said. Areas with high Joro spider populations have been found to have lower populations of spiders that are actually native to the area, he said.

“To me, that represents a very distinct ecological impact,” Coyle said.

How big are Joro spiders?

Females can grow up to an inch long and 2 to 3 inches across with legs spread. With their yellow and gray abdomens, spiders aren’t exactly cuddly.

“Anyone who doesn’t like all things creepy and creepy has all the characteristics that make them squeamish,” Coyle said.

A Joro spider
A Joro spider

Dave Coyle/Clemson University

What should people do if they see a Joro spider?

When dealing with another invasive species, the spotted lanternfly, officials urged the public to crush them. Coyle would like people to photograph Joro spiders – with a camera.

To help scientists track the spiders, Coyle urged people who encounter them to take photos and upload them to a crowdsourcing app. iNaturalist.

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