Oh boy, here come the hysterical headlines

On LiveScience:


On Philadelphia TV news:

These are all nonsense. Virtually all spiders are venomous, and the Joro spider does not have particularly strong venom and isn’t a hazard to humans. The “flying” bit is just a reference to the spiderlings’ dispersal method of using strands of silk to loft themselves into the air — the adults are much too large and heavy to do that.

At least NPR gets the story straight.

That is correct: harmless. Harmless to people, at least — there is concern that the Joro spider will displace other resident spider species.

But these are magnificent animals.

What’s also annoying to me is that we already have large orb-weaving spiders of similar size living in these same places that the Joro is invading. We have Argiope aurantia already.

These tend not to live in cities or places particularly close to people — they eat large insects, like grasshoppers. If your home is swarming with hoppers all over, then yes, maybe Argiope or Joro will set up shop in your neighborhood, and take out the grasshoppers. I’ve seen fallow fields around my home that are densely overgrown with grasses and where the grasshoppers are leaping all around you as you walk through the brush, and I’ll see Argiope spiders populating every square meter. They don’t get headlines, though, because they’re harmless and leave people alone.

Maybe I’ll have to record a video of one of these spectacularly dense Argiope sites this year — they usually start popping up in August, so you’ll have to wait a bit.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    I suggest hiring Dr. Girou from Dragon Ball Z to work on the ‘too small spiders’ issue.

  2. kenbakermn says

    I wish we were overrun by giant, venomous, FLYING spiders. I mean, I’d probably shit myself in terror, but it would be worth the mess to have giant flying spiders.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    Hysterical headlines, schmysterical schmeadlines: just wait for the Joro movie(s)!

  4. Hoosier Bluegill says

    I, for one, welcome our new arachnid overlords. Both of those pictures of of stunningly beautiful spiders.

  5. cheerfulcharlie says

    I for one welcome our new Joro Spider overlords.
    I grew up in Tulsa Oklahoma. We had nice, big, fat tarantulas. Jolos are pipsqueaks comparatively speaking.

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Another recent case of hysterical headlines was the description of a modest planet line-up in early June. In reality you could only see a couple of planets with the unaided eye.

  7. Matthew Currie says

    Flying spiders? The end of the world! Hovind had better hurry up and finish that ark! “What are we in the hands of the great God?”

  8. Rich Woods says

    @birgerjohansson #12:

    “Big, fat tarantulas…” Yum.

    There are people in South America who, when travelling, catch female tarantulas for their eggs. They squeeze the eggs out to whip up and fry on a heated flat rock as an arachnid omelette. Easier than carrying a chicken around, I suppose.

  9. Walter Solomon says

    @16 Autobot Silverwynde

    What’s wrong with stinkbugs? I love flicking them around.

  10. eastexsteve says

    On Argiope aurantia’s abdomen it looks like a women with her hands on her hips and a Marge Simpson hairdo with a stern or a bit angry expression.

  11. Robert Webster says

    Thanks for clearing that up. I mean, I’m no biologist, but I know about ballooning. I just couldn’t figure out how a full-grown spider could do it.

  12. redwood says

    I have joro spiders on my balcony every summer and I really enjoy looking at them and their golden webs, especially when they are caught in the sunlight. A few years ago they built a giant “danchi” (apartment building complex) on a neighbor’s farm with over 30 webs having a jorogumo at the heart of each. I keep hoping for a repeat but maybe it depends on what’s available to eat and the number of insects here in central Japan seem to be decreasing, at least that’s what my car’s windshield is telling me.

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