“Like a scene from Arachnophobia”: large Joro spiders invade northern Georgia | The spiders


Northern Georgia has found itself under siege by millions of large yellow, blue and red spiders, in scenes that remind locals of the movie Arachnophobia.

The Joro spider is an invasive species, native to East Asia, which was first spotted in Georgia in 2014. Since then, the 3-inch arachnid appears to have thrived in warmer climates of the State.

Its presence, however, upset the inhabitants, especially given its propensity to weave dense webs up to 3 meters deep.

Jennifer Turpin, a self-proclaimed arachnophobe who lives in Atlanta, told The Associated Press she stopped blowing leaves in her garden after entering a Joro canvas.

Turpin, 50, said she tried to set a web on fire, but feared the web would fall on her. She quickly backed up, only to fall into a hole. Turpin asked a neighbor to remove the spider.

“I just don’t think I’m going to do any gardening work anymore,” Turpin said.

Debbie Gilbert, of Norcross, 20 miles northeast of Atlanta, was also forced to take matters into her own hands. She said she used a stick to roll up the webs, before throwing them, spiders and everything, on the ground. The 67-year-old then stomped on the spiders, she said.

“I am not advocating killing anything,” Gilbert said. “I live in peace with all the spiders here and everything in between. Corn [Joros] don’t belong here, that’s all.

Joro spiders, or Trichonephila clavata, are common in Japan, China, Korea and Taiwan. It is not known how they got to the United States. Researchers say the particular abundance of spiders this year could be due to climate change.

It is not known whether the spider will negatively impact native flora and fauna, as do other invasive species, including the famous spotted lantern fly. Ann Rypstra, who studies spider behavior at the University of Miami, told the AP more research is needed.

“I always err on the side of caution when you have something setting up where it’s not supposed to be,” she said.

Meanwhile, the people of northern Georgia are trying to come to terms with their new neighbors. In Winterville, Will Hudson’s porch became unusable amid an abundance of 10-foot-deep Joro canvases. An entomologist at the University of Georgia, he said he killed more than 300 of the spiders.

“The canvases are a real mess,” Hudson said. “No one wants to go out in the morning, go down the steps and have a spider web in their face.”

Hudson said that while spiders can bite, they do not pose a threat to humans. A researcher who collected them with her bare hands reported occasional pinching, he said, but said the spiders never broke his skin.

“Last year there were dozens of spiders, and they started to be a nuisance when I was working in the yard,” Hudson said. “This year I have several hundred, and they make the place scary with all the messy webs – like an arachnophobia scene.”

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