NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Giant Joro spider is native to Asia and was first detected in Georgia in 2013. This large spider has thrived in North Georgia and with the population booming, scientists are expecting it to spread to other states in the south, including Tennessee.
Dr. David Coyle, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation at Clemson University said, despite their intimidating appearance, Joros are no threat to humans or pets. “From what we understand their little mouthparts are actually so weak, they can barely pierce the skin, if at all. So if you leave them alone, they are going to leave you alone.”
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Dr. Coyle said their size and appearance make them easy to spot. “These are great, big, colorful spiders. They’re out in the middle of summer when everyone’s outside when the kids are playing with the pets or plan. And they spin great big, huge webs. I mean, they’re very, very obvious right out there for people to see.”
As the population of these spiders increased in North Georgia, more reports began to filter in. Dr. Bud Freeman, the Director of the Georgia Museum of Natural History, has been tracking the movements of the Giant Joros in Georgia.
Dr. Freeman said there are two ways these spiders move. “One is via ballooning and spiders, all spiders, so many spiders do this. So throw up a small silk parachute, catch the wind and then drift. But the other way is as hitchhikers and so if you’re in an area with a lot of tourists, they may inadvertently build a web on your vehicle.”
Giant Joro spiders are able to live in the conditions found in the southeast, something that makes it likely that we will eventually see them here in Middle Tennessee. “The native range goes from Northern India to Korea. And so it certainly encompasses the climatic conditions that we have the Southeast, and probably further north,” said Dr. Freeman.
Joro spiders have already been detected in the Chattanooga area and will likely continue to spread. If you think you may have found a Giant Joro in Middle Tennessee, there are a couple of ways you can report them.
Dr. Coyle recommends using a website called iNaturalist, “The best thing to do would be to upload it to iNaturalist, where you can take a picture, and then your phone will capture your location. And then it records that as a, you know, as what you say it is. So if you think it’s a Joro, you can put it in there, it’s free to register to be a part of, and then experts will come in and they will verify.”
You can also email the Georgia Museum of Natural History if you detect a Joro.