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A whopping great spider of an invasive species is believed to be on its way to New York. While this might be alarming for arachnophobes, it’s not a major concern for everyone else. The joro spider, often making headlines during its spread across the United States, is notable for its size but isn’t dangerous and tends to be quite shy.

Who is the Joro Spider?

The orb-weaving joro spider (Trichonephila clavata) is known for its ability to travel vast distances. Spiderlings can parachute using their silk, allowing them to be carried miles across the country by the wind. As Gothamist reported, northward winds might now be bringing them as far as New York. However, if you’re an arachnophobe in the big city, there’s some good news.

Despite their impressive legspan of up to 10 centimeters (4 inches) and bright coloration, which signals their venom to small predators, joro spiders are not dangerous to humans. Their bites have been compared to weak bee stings, and like other spiders, they prefer to conserve their venom for prey rather than wasting it on humans.

Joro Spider vs. Turkey Baster

Some speculated that the joro spider’s success as an invasive species might be due to aggression. However, an experiment disproved this theory. Scientists used a turkey baster to puff air on around 50 spiders, provoking a threat response known as thanatosis, or freezing. They observed how long this response lasted across different species.

Most spiders resumed movement after about a minute, but the joro spider remained still for over an hour. This lengthy thanatosis response is shared only by the golden silk spider, a relative in the Trichonephila genus. So, if you encounter a joro spider, a puff from a turkey baster can immobilize it for an hour, allowing you to avoid it.

Why is the Joro Spider Such a Successful Invader?

The joro spider’s success as an invasive species can be attributed to its physiology. Research revealed that these spiders possess characteristics that help them survive cold weather better than other invasive species. They have a higher metabolism, nearly double that of invasive golden silk spiders, and a heart rate that stays 77 percent higher in cold temperatures.

With their ballooning babies already airborne, US residents might need to get used to having joro spiders as neighbors. As Andy Davis from the Odum School of Ecology at the University of Georgia stated, resistance is futile. “People should try to learn to live with them. If they’re literally in your way, I can see taking a web down and moving them to the side, but they’re just going to be back next year.”

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