The Joro Spider: Friend or Foe?

A photograph of the Joro Spider. (Creative Commons)

The Tricho Nephila Clavata, better known as the Joro spider, first seen in Georgia, is a palm-sized spider that was first identified in the United States by Rick Hoebeke with the Museum of Natural History. This venomous spider, as large and threatening as it can appear, poses no threat to humans as its fangs are too short and dull to penetrate skin. The diet of the Joro spider consists of stink bugs, aphids, mosquitos, and yellowjackets. 

Animal appearance plays a big part in human acceptance. Cats, for example, are invasive in Hawaii, where they eradicate native bird species, but there is generally little attention paid to them due to their familial connotations. Spiders, on the other hand, are rather alien to most of the population. Woodgrove Environmental Science Teacher Scott Fortney said, “I think first impressions and physical attraction for people always plays into the factor of whether to fight invasive species or even to save endangered ones.”

The idea of an invasive species raises red flags to many, but sometimes they aren’t all bad. The Joro spider will likely terrify many people, but it will also clean up insectoid pests along the way, although the later effects of that are not yet known.