Your Questions About The Joro Venomous Spider, Answered

Trichonefila clavata (Joro spider) in the green background Credit – Getty Images-NORIYUKI_OTANI

AThere is concern throughout the Northeast because of the terrifying eight-legged creature that arose from the possibility of the Joro spider entering the greater New York City area. But experts are advising residents to remain calm, calling the arachnid harmless and also questioning if and when the spider will come from the north.

“There’s no reason to panic about this,” David Coyle, an assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University, tells TIME.

The yellow and gray colored arachnids are native to eastern Asia. The creatures were first documented in the southeastern US around 2013, but Coyle says it’s also possible the spider arrived as early as 2010. Experts believe the arachnids likely struck cargo containers traveling to a northern town of Atlanta.

Joro spiders are an invasive species – meaning non-native. In the United States, the creatures mostly live in North Georgia, the Appalachian region of South Carolina, the far western corner of North Carolina, and the southeastern corner of Tennessee. Joro spiders have been recorded as far north as Baltimore, according to

The spiders are about the size of a woman’s hand, with a body up to an inch long, and a leg span of up to four inches. Despite their size, experts say they are harmless. “In areas where the population is high – are they agitated? Definitely. They are everywhere and their network is huge,” says Coyle. “But in terms of danger, we haven’t seen anything like that.”

Here’s what you need to know about the spider.

Will the spider reach New York City?

Although the Joro spider could travel to New York City, it would have to reach the metro area through some form of human-assisted movement.

“In terms of if or when [the Joro spider] Will get there, we have no idea. It could be a year, it could be ten years – there’s really no way to tell. By itself, it doesn’t really travel that far,” says Coyle. “[But] there could always be a hitchhiking population, and that’s probably how that little point about Baltimore got its start.”

Coyle notes that it would only take a group of spider egg sacs to be transported from one place to another for the spider population in another state to take over. Still, experts say any estimates of timing would be pure speculation. Andy Davis, a research scientist at the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia, says that even if there were a few reports of the spiders in New York, it would still take years for the spider population to reach a viable population.

It is still possible that the creature could live in a place like New York based on its physiology. “If you look at its native range in East Asia, it’s a very large area with a large amount of latitude from northern Japan all the way down to Taiwan,” says Davis. “If you extrapolate that, that means these fighters could probably live in a place like Maine or South Florida if they wanted to.”

Does the spider Joro fly?

Joro spiders don’t fly – or at least, not in the way some people might picture it. Coyle says younger Joro spiders travel by air when they are spiders. “Some of them will get up on a high perch, and they will drop a few drops of silk, and some of that silk will be caught by the wind, as they are going to blow,” he says. It is a common process called ballooning.

By the time arachnids get bigger, however, they can’t swim around in the air.

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Courtesy of David CoyleSpider Joro

Is the spider harmful to people or pets?

Experts say the Joro spider is not dangerous to humans or pets. “They have venom just like any other spider,” says Davis. “But as long as you leave them alone, they will leave you alone.” Part of that has to do with the spider’s personality, which experts describe as relatively docile and shy. Even if someone were to get bitten by a Joro spider, Coyle says it’s like a mosquito bite, and Davis compares it to more of a bee sting.

Pets are also likely to be safe around the species. Joro spiders spend most of their time in a web above the ground, according to Davis, which is probably too high for a cat or dog to reach. Even then, the spider would have to provoke an attack of any kind.

“They’d rather not sting you because biologically, it costs a lot of physiological energy to produce venom for anything,” says Coyle. “They will only bite if they are fully engaged as a last defense mechanism.”

Is the spider harmful to the environment?

Experts are not sure about the impact of the Joro spider on the environment. The critters are not comparable to spotted lanternflies, which experts urge people to kill because they threaten more than 100 trees and plants.

The Joro spider, however, does not harm any vegetation. Experts are mixed on how they affect native spider species. Davis says Juro spider webs can be seen next to native spider webs, meaning both can exist. “What could be happening is that the Joro spiders are competing with some of our native spiders for food, because they’re both going after the same food,” he says. Davis. “But on the other hand, Joro spiders could be their own food source for someone else, for some of our birds, or their egg cases could be a tasty snack for a raccoon in the winter.”

Coyle says that areas with a high population of Joros do not show as many native species of spiders, although it is not clear what would keep the different types of spiders apart.

Davis says it’s not necessary to kill the spider, although Coyle says people can squash the arachnid if that’s what they feel most comfortable doing. “Will you have any measurable impact on the populations? But if that’s your thing, go for it,” he notes.

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