Say hello to your new arachnid neighbor, New York City.
The massive Joro spider, an invasive species from Asia, has descended on southern states — particularly Georgia and South Carolina — and is now due to spread rapidly to Alabama, according to the University of Georgia’s Odum School of Ecology.
“People should try to learn to live with them,” said researcher Andy Davis in a university news release sharing new research on the frightful spider.
But the question remains: How would they fare if they were to travel to colder climates — like, say, NYC?
While any snowbird would attest that Northern climes during winter are enough to make them scatter, Davis said that these creepy critters stand up to freezing cold “just fine,” according to his and Frick’s experiments. The spiders were exposed to below-freezing temperatures for minutes at a time — about as long as they’d need to find a warm place to hide.
And — compared to its arachnid cousin the golden silk spider, which wouldn’t survive a brief freeze — the Joro has nearly two times the metabolic rate and a 77% higher heart rate, leading researchers to believe its potential to spread north.
Did we mention they can travel by air?
The Joro spider can withstand freezing temperatures better than some of its arachnid cousins, researchers found.Alex SanzIndeed, bug-watchers have spotted the Joro using their webs as parachutes, transporting them by wind.
Otherwise, they’re also known to hitch a ride, according to one research anecdote.
“The potential for these spiders to be spread through people’s movements is very high,” said study co-author Benjamin Frick in an interview with Atlanta CBS affiliate WGCL. “We got a report from a grad student at UGA who had accidentally transported one of these to Oklahoma.”
The Joro spider is also known to use its web as a parachute and glide through the air.Alex SanzFrick added that while the spiders are “no predators, it doesn’t have anything that’s controlling its population size in the new habitat, but it has perfect conditions to spread.”
While these monstrous spiders with distinctive yellow stripes are venomous, the only place they’ll be a true invasion is in your nightmares, as experts say their relatively small fangs wouldn’t likely penetrate “most human skin,” Frick said.
They’re also not considered a dire threat to local ecology — so there’s no great push to control the Joro spider population.
So you can try to tear down their web or move them aside, “but they’re just going to be back next year,” said Davis.