⚫ The Joro spider from Asia has been spreading in the U.S.

⚫ Experts say the giant spider can survive in New Jersey

⚫ They can bite, but they don't really fly

You can go outside.

And for the most part, you can ignore the media frenzy that's been predicting an invasion of "palm-sized," "flying," "venomous" spiders in New Jersey and neighboring states.

With numerous articles warning people in our region to look out for Asia-native Joro spiders this summer, New Jersey 101.5 reached out to one of the authors of a November 2023 study that apparently set the stage for today's panic — and he has no idea why people are freaking out.

Are Joro spiders in New Jersey?

"I don't really know why they're all the rage in the news right now," said David Coyle, assistant professor of forest health and invasive species in Clemson University's Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation.

"I can tell you right now, Joro spiders are not known to be in New Jersey," Coyle said.

Coyle's report in November indicated that Joro spiders have the ability to live in the northeastern segment of the U.S. The researchers took into account several environmental variables and overlaid them in North America to see if and where the foreign species would be able to survive.

But there's no timeline attached to that. The orb-weaving spiders could show up in New Jersey in a year, or in a decade.

Right now, the "Joro zone" in the U.S. encompasses parts of Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. The first Joro spider in the U.S. was documented a decade ago, and the population started to explode a few years ago. The spider is native to China and the Koreas.

A pop-up of Joro spiders was registered in Maryland last year — experts are trying to determine if they're around again for summer 2024.

"As long as it's not inadvertently moved by people, it's going to be a while before they get to New Jersey," Coyle said. "Will they get there? Maybe someday. My gut says, yes, eventually they will."

Spider Takeover
FILE - The Joro spider, a large spider native to East Asia, is seen in Johns Creek, Ga., on Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz, File)

Should I worry about the Joro spider?

A Joro spider is bigger than the average spider, by a good amount. Females can grow to about 3 inches when their legs are spread out, Coyle said.

Their size and distinct color — females are yellow with blue-gray bands — make them seem like a threat. But there's no evidence that they are a danger to humans or pets, Coyle said.

Male Joro spiders are much smaller and brownish in color.

"They're extremely docile," Coyle said. "I've handled them, my kids have handled them."

Joro spiders do have venom, but it's not "medically relevant," according to Coyle. It's used to subdue prey, but if a Joro spider were to ever bite you, the effect would likely just amount to something similar to a mosquito bite.

Can Joro spiders fly?

Exaggerated news reports suggest Joro spiders are falling from the sky via a technique known as "ballooning."

This technique — using silk as a parachute to fly through the breeze — is only used by young Joro spiders when they hatch, Coyle said. At that point, they're about the size of a sesame seed.

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