Trichonephila clavata

Trichonephila clavata, Scientists say the giant, but harmless, arachnid is spreading

Trichonephila clavata, They’re huge, have eight blue-black and yellow striped legs, and could soon move into most of the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.

A study published in the journal Physiological Entomology says that the palm-sized joro spider, which has been largely confined to warmer southeastern states for nearly a decade, could soon be expected to colonize regions with colder climates.

That’s because researchers have discovered the large arachnids have a higher probability of surviving a brief freeze than other closely related species of the same genus.

“People should try to learn to live with them,” Andy Davis, a research scientist in the Odum School of Ecology and one of the authors behind the recent study, told UGA Today, a publication by the University of Georgia.

A joro spider can grow to be about 3 inches long, including a large bulbous body with bright yellow stripes. Its underbelly has distinctive red markings, and it weaves large webs that look as if they’re spun from golden silk.

It gets its name from Jorōgumo, which in Japanese folklore that can turn itself into a beautiful woman to prey on unsuspecting men.

Despite their startling appearance — and their namesake — Davis noted joros don’t appear to be harmful or have much of an effect on local agriculture or ecosystems. In fact, he said, they may be beneficial to native predator birds as an additional food source. And, while they kill their prey using venom, scientists say they are harmless to people and pets because their fangs are usually too small to break human skin.

In other words, try to leave them alone, Davis says.

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