New Study Reveals How Cities and Highways Affect Giant Spiders

Joro spiders have become more common in the U.S. recently

Joro spider
That is not a small spider.
David Madison/Getty Images

Joro spiders are known for several things: their significant presence in Japanese folklore, their large size relative to other species of spiders and the massive scale of their webs, which can exceed six feet in diameter. But in the last decade, they’ve also been making inroads across the Pacific, specifically in the southeastern United States. Turns out these spiders are very adaptable, though — and, as New Hampshire Public Radio reported in 2022, they’ve been making their way into the Northeast as well.

A paper recently published in the journal Arthropoda ventured into an existential question for the Joro spider: namely, do the vibrations from active roads affect its ability to catch prey? “Jorō spiders appear to be able to live near roads, but this does come with a cost in terms of prey capture,” the study’s authors concluded. “However, spiders near busier roads did not weigh less than those in other sites, suggesting they may be able to compensate for the disturbance.”

Or, as Andy Davis — one of the study’s authors — phrased it, “[F]or some reason, these spiders seem urban tolerant.”

If you’re not fond of spiders, the prospect of a good-sized arachnid species making its way to a region near you might be a bit unsettling. There is good news for the arachnophobes in the room — namely, that Joro spiders prefer to seek their prey outdoors.

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The Joro spider’s webs are also easy to see, given that they’re gold in hue. They are capable of biting humans, though a recent WebMD article on the species notes that their venom is more of an annoyance to humans than an active danger. So even if the giant spiders are setting up shop near you, you won’t have too much to worry about.

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