Giant Spider Invades North Georgia
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The Golden Orb Weaver or Joro Spider has invaded northeast Georgia and could be heading our way. In the last five years, these giant spiders have spread to multiple counties in north Georgia. Where they have established themselves these enormous spiders make walking outdoors in the late summer creepy, to say the least. Watch this video from UGA.
The Joro Spider is called the Golden Orb Weaver because the silken threads they spin are gold colored. The spiders spin huge webs using silk as thick as fishing line. Walking into a web as big as a person that houses a spider as big as your hand is unnerving. Fortunately, these spiders do not bit people or pets.
This author recently experienced these spiders on a camping trip to Northeast Georgia. The sheer number of spiders was incredible. I counted a half dozen of the webs and spiders within 50 feet of each other. Their presence was noted every 20-30 feet down trails and along woodland edges. Walking around at night was a harrowing experience trying to avoid getting one of the spiders in the face.
So far, it appears these spiders prefer areas near water. Ponds, streams, and rivers could be their preferred habitat. If you have a pond, boat, dock, or stream you will want to monitor these areas for the invasive spider. Reports are that people are finding these things all over the place, not just near water. Wherever there are vertically parallel power lines, there are hundreds of spiders.
Fortunately, we have not had any reports of the spider locally. If you do see a Golden Orb Weaver/Joro Spider in Western North Carolina, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org . These spiders are distinguishable from our native orb weavers by their golden spider webs, the webs being high off the ground, and coloration. Joro Spiders have distinguishable yellow stripes across their abdomen. See similar spiders.
If you want to learn more, read this article from the University of Georgia Extension Service.
An article about poisonous spider from Wilkes County Extension.