A huge joro spider has been spotted in Georgia with a web full of bees. The bees dangle from the web reminiscent of that scene in “Lord of the Rings” where Frodo gets lost in Shelob’s cave. All those wrapped-up bodies of birds and orcs hanging from the ceiling. That’s what this reminds me of, anyway.
Overall, the joro spider is an invasive species, and along with being seen in Georgia, it’s slowly starting to invade Alabama as well. A hiker reported the first sighting of the highly invasive spider. In Georgia, they’ve nearly taken over, spinning huge three-dimensional webs that consume porches and tree branches.
The spiders were first introduced to Georgia in 2013 from Asia where they’re native. They can be found in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and China. Since 2020, though, they’ve taken over northeastern Georgia and northwestern South Carolina. Now, they’re spreading to Alabama.
Mathew Guthrie of Paint Rock, Alabama made the first confirmed sighting of a joro spider when he was hiking in Roy B. Whitaker Preserve with his brother, which is about 15 miles from Huntsville, AL.
“We almost ran into it,” said Guthrie. “I went to move the web and it was really thick, almost like fishing line or like a thread from clothing, but it was golden. And that kind of took us back a little bit. Then we looked at the spider, and we had never seen one like that before.”
According to Guthrie, he’s been going to that preserve for years but has never seen a spider like that until now. “We sat and watched it and tried to take pictures of it for maybe 20 minutes,” said Guthrie, “because we just thought it was really cool.”
Man Finds Joro Spider in Alabama for First Time After Georgia Invasion
Guthrie spoke with AL.com about the sighting and sent the outlet photos of the joro spider. AL.com then sent the photos to research biologist at the University of Georgia, Andy Davis, who specifically studies joros. Davis said that the spider is female and is most likely carrying an egg sac. That means she’s been in the preserve for a while.
“Basically, by the time the average person sees one, they’re already there, and they’ve been there for a while,” said Davis. “This one in the picture looks like a big fat female, which means she probably grew up here.”
The joro spider is great at moving from one place to the next by hitchhiking or ballooning their webs to catch the wind and essentially “fly” to a new area. “These things are going to go everywhere,” said Davis, unfortunately. “They’re suited for the U.S. climate, unfortunately, and they’re really good at hitchhiking.”
The thing to know about joro spiders is they’re venomous, but they have such tiny fangs that it’s unlikely that they’d be a threat to humans. They look monstrous and dangerous, but their fangs are too small to bite through human skin.