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Just hearing the word "spider" is enough to give some people goosebumps, and when you add "invasive," "millions," and "big," well, it might feel like it's time to hide under the covers.
However, even though those terms are all apt for the Japanese arthropod commonly called the joro spider, experts say there's no real cause for concern. Spotted for the first time in Georgia in 2014, the spiders have pretty much made themselves at home there and are now thought to be spreading up the East Coast, possibly even into Canada. Sorry, it's not an April Fool's joke.
But try not to worry. Even though the joro spider can grow to 3 inches (7.6 cm) in width, is brightly colored (blue, yellow and red), and can weave webs 10 feet (3 m) deep, they are not dangerous to humans or the environment, and scientists say they might even be helpful. For instance, joro spiders prey on some harmful critters that other spiders don't, like the brown marmorated stink bug, which can be devastating to crops.
- Research shows that on average, you are never more than about 10 feet (3 m) from a spider (sorry).
- A strand of spider silk is five times stronger than a piece of steel of the same thickness.
- More than 100 spider species have evolved to mimic ants, either to prey on them or to avoid predators of their own.