‘Extreme Numbers’ of Invasive Spiders are Covering Georgia, South Carolina in Webs

by Matthew Memrick
extreme-numbers-invasive-spiders-covering-georgia-south-carolina-webs

Georgia and South Carolina are seeing “extreme numbers” of invasive spiders this year.

The Joro spider, a palm-sized spider with yellow stripes, comes from China. The region first started seeing it less than a decade ago, according to Yahoo! News. However, northern Georgia has seen more than its fair share of the spider over the last year.

While the University of Georgia started seeing the arachnoid between 2013 and 2014, genetic testing confirmed the golden-orb spider genius in 2015. Rick Hoebeke, the Georgia Museum of Natural History collections director, mapped the spider as people identified it throughout the state.

Hoebeke’s theory on how the spider got to the United States? Shipping container. University of Georgia officials say 25 counties and parts of South Carolina are now home to the spider.

Will These Spiders Help Us?

There’s a lot we don’t know about the spider and how it will affect our ecosystems. After initial reservations, Georgia experts decided that the arachnid is not harmful to humans or other local native species. 

Other Clemson University researchers say they do not know how South Carolina ecosystems will handle the spider yet. 

But it could serve as important “pest control” without humans needed chemicals.

“Joro spiders present us with excellent opportunities to suppress pests naturally, without chemicals,” Hinkle said. “I’m trying to convince people that having zillions of large spiders and their webs around is a good thing,” University of Georgia entomologist Nancy Hinkle told USA Today.

Joro spiders eat insects like mosquitoes, flies, and stink bugs.

Sure, if you’re one of those “I kill spiders” people, go ahead. 

But, like Kudzu, experts say the spider is here to stay, and they are beneficial so far. The spider’s population will eventually end its rapid growth soon anyway.

Hinkle said November would be a deadly month for the Joro spiders, but they will likely lay sacs full of eggs. So get ready for another springtime explosion.

Fishing Line From Spider Webs?

Spiders from this golden-orb classification can make strong fibers for items like socks and bullet-proof vests.

Japanese researchers in 2007 attempted to make silk stronger, softer, and more durable than regular silk by mixing silkworms with spider genes. Also, a Japanese manufacturer was experimenting with spider socks, stockings, and even fishing lines.

Closer to home, a North Carolina clothing designer Alexander Julian teamed up with DeFeet International to make a $5,000 pair of cycling socks from Madagascar Golden orb spiders in 2018. DeFeet International founder Shane Cooper said the Golden orb spider silk is five times stronger than steel

The Morganton, N.C. newspaper reported that some have tried to produce the material without success. Others have tried other ways to replicate it.

In 2010, University of Wyoming researchers found a way to put spider silk-spinning genes into goats. The process would enable scientists to take the silk protein from the goat’s milk and use it for multiple things. The Phys.Org magazine said that the silk could make artificial ligaments and tendons. It could also help in eye sutures and jaw repair and also improve car airbags.

Outsider.com