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Giant "Parachuting" Spiders Are Spreading Fast and Can't Be Stopped

Jorō spiders are quickly making their way up the Eastern Seaboard.

As much as we love the summertime, we could do without the red lantern flies, pesky mosquitoes, and noisy cicadas. But what if we told you there's a new arachnid moving into town that could solve some of our insect-related problems? The catch: These gigantic spiders are spreading extra fast due to their flying superpowers. As the weather heats up, researchers warn that these frightening creatures are here to stay for good.

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The jorō spider hails from a group of spiders called orb weavers, which are known for their "highly organized, yellow-tinted wheel-shaped webs," explains the pest control service Orkin. What's even more shocking is that their webs can span more than six feet!

They aren't hard to spot, either. Jorō spiders have three-inch, yellow-and-blue striped bodies with lanky legs. When fully grown, a female jorō spider is "about the size of an adult's palm," explains Orkin. Now, that's a sobering thought. Male jorō spiders are typically brown and smaller in size but still larger than your average garden spider.

Despite making Georgia their home, jorō spiders aren't native to the state. Researchers believe the arachnid made landfall in the U.S. after hitching a ride on a container ship from East Asia, according to a 2015 study published in the PeerJ journal.

After a decade in Atlanta, jorōs are ready to spread their wings and fly—literally. They have already been spotted in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Maryland, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, and researchers say the "parachuting" spiders will continue to spread throughout the Eastern Seaboard, landing in parts of New Jersey and New York as early as this summer.

Speaking with NBC New York, David Coyle, a scientist and assistant professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University, said he thinks jorōs will take up a permanent residence along the East Coast.

"[The data from the study shows] that this spider is going to be able to inhabit most of the eastern U.S.," Coyle said in reference to his research. "It shows that their comfort area in their native range matches up very well with much of North America."

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On the bright side, the jorōs' diet includes summer's most popular (and our least favorite) bugs: mosquitoes, yellowjackets, stink bugs, and yes, even lantern flies. "[They] don't seem to care what gets in their web," Coyle told NBC New York.

And if it helps alleviate any panic, the jorō spider isn't aggressive towards humans or pets. According to a University of Georgia study, jorōs are super shy and "basically shut down and wait for the disturbance to go away" if approached. While they can bite, researchers assure that their fangs aren't sharp enough to puncture human skin.

Though jorōs appear harmless on paper, the speed at which they're traveling up the East Coast has some experts worried.

"These are not just benign spiders coming to catch and kill bad things; these are pushing out native species and catching and killing whatever happens to get in their webs," explained Coyle. "Are they bad or good? It's very nuanced depending on your perspective."

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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